MUSIC: Artist Overview 'Young Fathers'

LISTEN to their voices raise up as they chant in unison equally blended and tightly weaved relaxed aware not to over shadow their counterpart each has mastered their own art meet Rapper Kayus Bankole, Producer/ Singer Graham ‘G’ Hasting and Singer Alloysious Massaquoi this is ‘Young Fathers’ the Nigerian/Scottish/Liberian trio that is offering something new, different, uncomfortable and most important intelligent “conscious” Hip/Hop more so Pop than Hip at times described as a Psychedelic Hip Hop group they describe themselves as a ‘Pop‘ group marking out their latest release to be filled under Pop/ Rock.

“If you go into the record store, rock and pop has got the biggest section. We wanted to be in there,” says Hastings.

The structure of the group showcases the vast mix and influence drawn from each individual’s background. Their ability to mix heritage and history in short bursts of catchy songs with fast narration; most captivating is Kayus’ poetry like voice that leaves you praying for a few minutes in his embraced “African” accent a mix of pigeon and rap makes his experiences all the more authentic to the ear. ‘G’ adds a soulful raspy mix to the records when he steps in you instantly recognise his vocals listen to ‘Sister‘ (btw I would love to hear G let loose on a cover of No More Drama) a silenced rage pierces through while Alloysious  toys with a number of vocal ranges sings and raps but holds greater strength in telling stories that reflect a life full of adventure and pain so pleasantly presented real, raw but beautifully written etched into your memory.

AK47 take my brethren straight to heaven

Tell the story that I’m living say the words and I am smitten” ‘No Way’, Dead

Young Fathers present strong social commentary a type of Ousmane Sembene production that keeps you thinking it’s not enough to listen, NO! listening is not enough you have to read piecing there sliced up life experiences and lyrical imagery it will all make sense in the morning like a light switch that finally blinks on breaking down the lyrics and still captivated by the build-up of the compositions how elements that one would not readily place together flow so well.

“I always try to visualise us performing, thinking, is this entertaining? Would I be excited by this? Why don’t you write a decent pop song where you say what you need to say and it’s catchy – there’s your protest! You want to involve everyone.”

The groups’ presence in the industry has been greatly recognised over the past two years today they stand as winners of the Scottish Album of the Year 2013 with ‘TAPE TWO’ and Mercury Prize Award Winners 2014 with their LP ‘DEAD’ and currently nominated for another SAY Award 2015 for their ‘DEAD’ LP.

TAPE ONE marked their first release a Mixtape better yet an EP that showcased the bands identity, this their most “Hip Hop” with hints of soul sounding release that features several stand out tracks see Rumbling, Sister and the lead single Deadline heavily laced in deep drums the EP presents poetic lyrics that reach through to Afrobeat Soul and dub reggae sprinkle a handful of self-made music videos this is DIY at its best. This was then followed up with TAPE TWO a softer awakening that saw the group offering a number of ballads. Early 2014 saw the official LP DEAD, a combination and outgrowth from both Tape One & Two.

Early 2015 a tour underway Young Fathers delivered their latest instalment ‘WHITE MEN ARE BLACK MEN TOO’. The premise of the release a starting point to a conversation of race and identity presented in a Pop Album light and breezy with a lasting impact.

All mentioned releases are available online to listen to and also download White Men Are Black Men Too is available for purchase in all major music outlets. This was initially written for publication for a magazine in April 2015.

Maureen Muthoni

@MISSMUSO

EVENT: Blitz the Ambassador Rocks Nairobi

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On Wednesday the 18th February 2015, Nairobi City’s Ebony Lounge was graced by the talented Ghanaian born, New York City based hip hop performer Blitz the Ambassador. The event was courtesy of the weekly hip hop night dubbed, Hip Hop Rapsody that is organiSed by Spark Africa.

To the African Hip Hop heads that are really into the culture the name, Blitz the Ambassador will ring a bell but to casual listener he is a big a mystery.

What was billed to be a listening party for his upcoming EP ‘Diasporadical’ morphed into an energised performance with Blitz the Ambassador actually getting onto the bar and giving the audience a raucous showcase of how an emcee should rock the microphone. He was backed by Blinky Bill, of Just a Band on the decks.

Like some of the audience I had personally not given his music a thorough listen and attended the event more out of curiosity as to what his style of Hip Hop was like than anything else. Blitz delivered and then some, leaving the audience calling for an encore.

You could view the video below to catch a glimpse of his performance.

Fresh off the Sauti Za Busara music festival stage in Zanzibar, Blitz who usually performs backed by a live band made an exemption for Nairobi and gave a thrilling performance backed solely by a deejay. His dexterous and emotionally evoking delivery on hiphop beats crafted with live instrumentation was powerful to experience.

Whats-more his Afrocentric demeanour and how he managed to own the hiphop persona minus a faux American accent is worth emulating as African emcees try to find their own voice in a culture that is steeped in urban African-American tropes. Blitz’ outfit showcased his African heritage too.

The songs he performed were drawn from his upcoming project and his 2014 LP ‘Afropoliltan Dreams’. The stand-out song of the night was his rendition of the song ‘Dikembe’, which had most of the audience on their feet with their hands up in the air waving from side to side.

Also in performance was Muthoni the Drummer Queen, who I must say keeps getting better with every release. As a fan who saw her grow through the singer/poet phase at the British Council into a ferocious emcee and successful event entrepreneur, I have just one word to say to her. Salute! She gave the audience a peek preview of songs off he latest project, ìMDQ ‘Upgraded’ which features a slew of top notch rappers and producers. Her set was backed by DJ FinalKut on the decks.

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by Kuchio Asonga

Music: Kwame – 'Mapenzi Yako'

Mapenzi Yako Kwame

‘Mapenzi Yako’ is the second release from Kwame’s upcoming EP, here he talks about God’s love being more than sufficient to him, Mapenzi Yako meaning (Your Love). Kwame delivers his lyrics in both Kiswahili and Kikuyu dialects spoke in Kenya the song is smooth and draws you close to his message, Kwame is a conscious artist with a strong message for his listeners from his collaboration with Nyach ‘Holela’ that advised individuals on safe sexual practices he boasts a fast growning achieve that uplifts his community and its people. You can download the single on Soundcloud and also view the visuals to the song below.

 

New Sounds Elle Varner ft Wale

After her debut ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ in 2012 Elle Varner has had a year filled with touring and now has given her fans a first glimpse of what her second album has to offer and if ‘Rover’ is any indication we should all just get excited. The track is smooth and effortless and featuring artist Wale just adds enough to balance the sensuality of the rhythm and vocals of Varner. Have a listen below.

 

Fantastic Ecounters

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A while back during the month of June I was in Leicester Square and come across this outstanding talent. While walking around taking pictures as one does we overheard this gentleman singing ‘Am going Down’ he was cool enough to share a piece with us his voice is classic, I forgot his name but check out the video and the picture we snapped together.

 

Just a TED Talk

Super happy, proud and excited that this happened Just a Band one of the best out of the beautiful nation of Kenya graced the TED Talks this month of June in Edinburgh and bought some needed sunshine and colour.

Described as the creators of the “Africans first viral video” the boys definitely show and express how talent and consistent work can place you on a global stage. As we wait on the TED Talks Video we can surely enjoy the video that helped in getting them there here’s  ‘Ha- He ask yourself

“Are you a dreamer?”

Just a Band

 

Just a Band

Just a Band latest released ‘Probably for Lovers‘ is a solid album and worth the purchase and listen… go gerrrttt itt.