Your Handy Guide to the World of African Music Blogs
Courtesy of Ross Simonini's piece in this week's Voice, we break down the various sources of far-flung music on the web. . .
"Frank Conakry, a/k/a DJ Soulpusher, recently spent three years living in West Africa for the sole purpose of crate-digging. He scoured 30-year-old private music collections and the homes of old musicians in search of 'Afrobeat, jerk, and soul' records—'not high life or rhumba or cha-cha,' he clarifies. During this search, he was robbed at knifepoint, battled scorpions inside record sleeves, and endured respiratory infections from colonies of mold spores."
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"Matt Yanchyshyn's 'world music for the masses' blog Benn Loxo Du Taccu follows his travels from China to Syria to Denmark, where he quizzes locals about their music scenes and unearths everything from Turkish hip-hop to Argentine classical music. 'More and more of my friends and associates who do not fall into the stereotypical world-music demography—i.e., old, white, and male—had started paying more attention to music from outside America and Europe,' Shimkovitz says. 'There seemed to be an opportunity to encourage younger people like my friends, who weren't around for the initial world-beat boom in the '80s.'"
"Tony Lowe, a member of the band Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities, started up the Cool Places blog/radio show with Dean Bein, owner of the True Panther record label. Essentially, the blog is a vehicle for their credo, 'Global musical thinking will be part of what saves us as a species,' which seems to be a more elaborate way of articulating what all these blogs are achieving through endless research, writing, mixtaping, and, in a way, proselytizing. Cool Places does their part by tracing the roots and development of Peruvian chicha and Southeast Asian music while sharing anecdotes about extraordinary cross-cultural musical influences, such as Javanese slaves in Guyana who play Eastern-tinged dancehall reggae. 'We think it's actually part of a larger shift in musical awareness,' Bein and Lowe write. 'Music blogs and new breeds of international-music-focused labels have a lot to do with people opening their ears to music they would've dismissed before. If we can expand that acceptance and enthusiasm into all aspects of foreign cultures, we'd truly be living as the global nation we should be. Music is just one of the first smoke signals.'"
"John Beadle, a machinist at Harley-Davidson, tends the Likembe blog because he 'wants to bring to light some little-known Nigerian sounds, particularly Igbo music, which is almost unheard outside of Nigeria.'"
"Brian Shimkovitz, a 'trained ethnomusicologist' who traveled through Ghana on a Fulbright scholarship, stocks his Awesome Tapes From Africa blog with the lo-fi recordings that he picked up along the way."
"Ghetto Bassquake, to name one of many, covers baile funk, reggaetón, dancehall, and other international dance-club beats."
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And, for an unrelated but fascinating back-and-forth re: African rap, check in with Sasha Frere-Jones, who's currently trying to figure out who, if anyone, is offended by Lil Wayne's "A Milli" "Nigerian Hair" crack. There is also even more African music than usual reviewed over at Robert Christgau's August Consumer Guide, and those who choose to get really excited about this stuff right now still have time to make it down to Lincoln Center, where Extra Golden, Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, the Either/Orchestra, the Ex, and Gétatchèw Mèkurya appear at the Damrosch Park Bandshell come 6pm today.
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