The Amplification of Souls (review)

Gilles Aubry’s The Amplification of Souls is a meticulously composed and conceived “audio-essay” (Aubry’s term) on Kinshasa’s charismatic churches and the broader soundscape they inhabit and inflect. I reviewed the CD, along with its 80 page booklet, in Issue 371 of The Wire (January 2015). As usual, I am posting the final draft I sent

Beyond Addis (review)

This past year I began reviewing records regularly again, mostly for the wonderfully serious London-based publication, The Wire, which has been pushing lots of interesting releases across my desk. It’s been a great experience working with the editors over there and trying to bring my prolix, punny, occasionally-too-precious style in line with their more exacting

Jampacked Picó

Picó Picante is always a nice nice time, but this Friday they’ve really stacked the decks — All these DJs are stellar and longtime friends & colleagues, and among other things, Jubilee has a poppin new EP out on Mixpak Records, and Dev/Null just posted a helluva 2 hour session devoted to atmospheric jungle from

Welcome (African?) Wizardry

I’m a little late sharing the good news of the John Wizards, a producer-singer duo from South Africa who put together my favorite recording of this year. But given that even some of my most musically voracious friends have still not heard them, I’m clearly not too late. So let me put it like this:

Panel People, Can Y’all Get Funky?

For anyone who missed our panel last week and would like to check out our conversation, I’m happy to report that it’s been archived here. But here’s an embed for your viewing ease — Video streaming by Ustream Thanks again to my eloquent interlocutors, all of whom had colorful stories & trenchant perspectives to share,

Migrant Locals @ EMP NYC

Later this week, on Friday April 19 from 2-3:45pm, I will have the pleasure of hosting a panel of some dear friends & colleagues & all-around awesome folks at the EMP Pop Conference at NYC (at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts @ 721 Broadway). An experiment of sorts, this year’s Pop Conference will take


Speaking of Africa Remix — That’s “Ewe” — the latest from Throes + The Shine, a project out of Portugal which, as the + implies, is essentially a merger between two groups: (migrant) Angolan kuduro duo The Shine and, as my tipster Ana Patrícia Silva puts it, Portuguese “post-hardcore/noise band” Throes. (The b-boy formidably rocking

Africa Remix

This Friday, February 8, Harvard’s “African Musics Abroad” seminar will stage a one day conference called “Africa Remix” with an aim to probe the global circulation of African musics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, featuring presentations by major producers of African sound recordings, discussions with presenters of African musical performances live and

The Kind of Drones We Like

Hard to believe the fall semester is already coming to a close, but we’re going out with a bang in Technomusicology (see & hear some of our projects here and there): Thursday’s final class session will feature a visit from none other than Jace Clayton, aka DJ /Rupture, globe-trotting artist, writer, label honcho, three-turntable magician,

Damas de Honor Duro

This is my new favorite thing in the world, and somehow it makes it make more sense that Luanda is the most expensive city on the planet. Sure is rich anyway (here’s a little background, fyi) — /big tip of the proverbial hat to Farrah Jarral, whose awesome voice I first encountered on Keysound’s classic

The Origin Story Is Genius Tho…

There’s an archived video of the panel I moderated last week during the Together fest. It begins with a six minute opening from me, then I introduce my esteemed co-panelists — Boima, Poirier, Ripley, Max, and Jesse — and we finally REALLY get into the convo about 10 minutes in. From there it’s a solid

Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

Africa Is a Country, a wry but passionate blog devoted to “Africa” — the idea, not (simply) the song — in contemporary media (but “not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”) has been threatening to make a weekly series out of the genuinely remarkable resonance of Toto’s 1982 soft-rock anthem. It’s a begrudging tribute of

Very African and Very Modern

As if there weren’t already enough to tease out about Konono N°1 and Congotronics, a recent article in the Guardian points to a song and video called “Karibu Ya Bintou” by Baloji, a Congo-born rapper who cut his teeth on the Belgian hip-hop scene but who has worked over the last few years to return

The African Americas Project & the Mystery of Dem Bow

I’m headed down to the University of Delaware tomorrow for “The African Americas Project,” a two-day symposium bringing together quite a mix of artists, musicians, and scholars to explore the connections between Latin America, the Caribbean and the US. For my part, I’ll be talking about “Reggaeton’s Afro-American Address,” by which I mean the ways

Best African Dance Ever

So, yeah. There’s rearing; and then there’s rearing — Slightly older kids, well enculturated & irrepressibly motivated, can tend to take things to the next level, bumping body parts with acrobatic abandon and lighting rooftops (and laptops) on fire — Devotees of dancehall reggae and reggaeton will no doubt recognize elements of perreo and daggering

Airtime for Bots Brethren

Last week month marked the release of Airtime, an EP from Masalacism Records. A happy convergence for me, the project brings together two sets of friends from far-flung parts of the world: Canada’s Masalacists and Botswana’s Ruff Riddims. The EP features the singular style of MaSuper Star, a dynamic duo who teamed up last year

A Tale of Two T-Shirts

As sported/spotted in Global Reggae class last week — Jury’s still out on who that guy with the dreadlocks is. My student assumed it was Bob Marley. Now he knows better.

A Whole Nu World?

Last week a daily newspaper from Abu Dhabi, The National, published a piece I wrote about “nu world” music under the title “Sounds of the wide, wired world” (29 Oct 2010). As usual, while I think my editor — here, the mighty Dave Stelfox — did an utterly admirable job of making my prolix prose

Nigerians Are the New Jamaicans

Louis Chude-Sokei has just published one of the more textured and sympathetic accounts of Nigerian 419 scammers I’ve read to date. Touching on everything from e-waste to Nollywood, proposing a tongue-in-cheek anti-eco-tourism, and taking into its analysis the way that transnational hustler culture speaks through the (dated) language of hip-hop and dancehall, it’s an incisive

Shapes, Colours, African Kidz

I’m really gonna give this subject a rest soon, but let me attempt a slightly more oblique approach. One dimension of the underlying critique in Grant’s comments seeks to draw lines of value and authenticity between what he wants to position as a kind of first-order cultural production (doing/making stuff) and second-order skimming (talking about

What Lamin Did

Last week Dutty Artz released a lovely, largely unpredictable set of 4 tracks produced by longtime blog/label staple but debuting artist, Lamin Fofana. (You can hear & buy individual tracks at Amazon and elsewhere around the web.) I wasn’t sure what to expect, never having heard any of Lamin’s productions. Sure, I’d heard mixes and

Gam and Sam

One of our guests tonight at Beat Research is Baltimore’s Sam Hopkins, aka Balagan, who promises to bring quite a (digital/digitized) crate with him. He might mix things up like — The great pic above comes from a piece Sam just published in Wax Poetics about searching for vinyl in Casablanca. Allow me to snip

Global Reggae

Next week I begin teaching my second course at MIT. It’s a new syllabus, though it draws on certain materials I’ve used before. In contrast to previous offerings, however, this will be the first time I teach a class with a primary focus on reggae outside of Jamaica — on what I’m calling here “global

African Flowers

the duke, surrounded by “african flowers” — google img search, 1 sept 2010 I was really thrilled with the reception of my “Galangs” mashup last week. To see the video get passed along by the likes of the Village Voice, NY Mag, & NPR, and especially to get this sort of response from SFJ, was

You Can Take a Computer Out of Africa…

my friend alex, sporting a shirt made special for him in Paris’s 11th & inspired by this guy (see e.g.) In yesterday’s re-post of a review, you might have caught the following barb-backed big-up: Ayobaness! continues a line of releases from Outhere portraying African popular music that is, you know, actually popular (not just what

Review: Ayobaness! The Sound of South African House

Continuing my tradition of posting “director’s cut” versions of the reviews I freelance from time to time, here’s the latest: a review of a recent compilation from Germany’s Outhere records, Ayobaness!, which showcases the rich, vibrant South African house scene. This one was an interesting endeavor, as my editor, Derek, pushed me to foreground a

Musical Travels with Seymour and Bernice, pt. 2: Brazil

This is the second post in a sporadic series here at w&w, an ongoing excavation, digitization, and interpretation of my wife’s grandparents’ record collection — i.e., the historico-musical profile of Seymour & Bernice. See here for the previous entry, and here for a note remembering Seymour. Of the many delights I’ve come across in Seymour

Mix, A Lot — Summertime Edition

Despite that the majority of what I listen to takes the form of DJ mixes, and that I probably download something around 3 per day, and that I probably like a good third-to-half of what I DL, I rarely find the time to write about all this great stuff I’m listening to. So aside from

This Totally Made My (Vampire) Week

Ezra Koenig, the brainy singer from the brainy band Vampire Weekend, did me the awesome service of bigging up this here brainy blog in the latest issue of Rolling Stone (Issue 1103, 29 April 2010). One upshot is that I actually went out and bought something with Black Eyed Peas on the cover. It’s also

the lion seeps tonight (riddim meth0d repost)

[Well, the Riddim Meth0d domain has finally kicked the bucket, scattering our posts to the great Internet Archive in the ether, or elsewhere. I’m going to continue rehashing here certain posts that seem to merit the treatment. In that vein, here’s another bit of resurrected mashup poetics for you. I’m happy to report that the

Fight the Sour

It’s a gorgeous day in Cambridge. The first day (that I’ve been here anyway — think I missed a couple while in Austin) that you want to wear a t-shirt outside, spend all day outside, cook meat outside, drink delicious beers outside, and listen to music like this —       >>>> melonhands, fatmix          Between

Bongo Flavored Independence?

When Boima was in Boston recently, back from a trip that brought him to Dubai and Dar es Salaam (aka Bongo) Nairobi, he mentioned that he noticed CDs on sale on the street, like the one pictured below, which compiled current hip-hop (and r&b) instrumentals, presumably for local rappers and singers to use for their

Return of the Chief

Just a quick post to let you know that Beat Research will be leaping into 2010 tonight with a special guest appearance by Chief Boima. We’ve been lucky to host Boima’s distinctive blends of the best dance music on the planet — with a heavy slant toward African and Afrodiasporic jams — a couple times

Is It Funky Enough?

When Guillaume was here last week, we discovered in conversation that we both had long been sitting on posts that centered on the question of Africanness and UK funky. I joked that we should both finally get around to finishing these posts and drop them on the same day, causing a ruckus on the ol’

Bass Is a Feeling

I’ve really been enjoying all the feedback I got on my “treble culture” post. One idea that’s been especially interesting is the seemingly common notion — repeated & affirmed by many commenters — that we tend to imagine/assume bass even when we don’t hear it. I suspect that this phenomenon may be at work more

Bots Burners

Botswana’s Ruff Riddims (now tweeting) have been putting in work lately. Now that the studio is up and running, they’ve been grinding out some promising stuff — a mix of kwaito and kwasa-kwasa, hip-hop and reggae — and they’re starting to reach out, nationally and internationally, to share their work with the wider world. Check

Mix, A Lot

With their latest greatest up-to-the-timeness (actually, an overview of 08), the Heatwave remind me that I should really bring more of the many mixes I enjoy to yr attn. These days, and for the last several years really — ever since the rise of the mp3/blog mix (h/t L-R?) — I listen to music mainly

Are You African-American?

from a blog and forthcoming documentary re: “How rapid immigration from Africa and the Caribbean is transforming the African American narrative” (via) — The Neo African Americans @ Yahoo! Video

Modern Ancient African Music

Since the conversation continues about trad v modern in African music, and since we read something germane about it for class yesterday, and since I’m still tryna maintain that pdf-blog grind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share another:       >> Monson, Ingrid. “Riffs, Repetition, and Theories of Globalization.” Ethnomusicology 43,       no. 1 (1999): 31-65.

Traditionally Modern

Since Canyon is bugging me to follow thru on my promises to make pdfs the new mp3s, and b/c Chief Boima put up a provocative post that inspired me to upload a couple of my favorite ethnomusicological articles about African music, I figured I should share them here too. Here’s what I wrote on Boima’s

House Kwasa Kwasa House

I still haven’t been able to send him those guitars, but Red Pepper has the Ruff Riddims studio up and running (and blogging!) — and it’s not like there aren’t guitars or guitarists in Botswana. Indeed, the first track I’ve heard out of the studio, “Dumelang” by Skeat (pronounced Skee-tee), is an ebullient bit of

Mirrors, Mics, and Membership

There is much that might be said about why urban Africans in the Northern Rhodesia of the late 1930s should have been so interested in ball- room dancing and formal evening wear. But the Rhodes-Livingstone anthro- pologists were right about at least one thing: when urban Africans seized so eagerly on European cultural forms, they

Frass Tea

Wooster Collective: Filippo Minelli's "Contradictions" "what i want to do by writing the names of anything connected with the 2.0 life we are living in the slums of the third world is to point out the gap between the reality we still live in and the ephemeral world of technologies." (tags: art web2.0 critique graffiti


I first stumbled upon Aaron Bady’s blog, zunguzungu, when searching some keywords along the nationalism / imperialism axis. And though lots of his posts have provoked my imagination, from incisive readings of The Wire and The Office to shock’n’awe as modern-day lynching, it was his blog’s title — for obv reasons, if you’re familiar with

Penultimate Warrior

The Adventures Of Soul Clap Podcast Episode 42: Eddie Neal Brings It Back To 88 | The Soul Clap Blog – House. Techno. Dance. Music. Boston. a little local DJ history (and a mix!) c/o the Soul Clap dudes & Eddie Neal :: pull quote — 'Back then [late 70s / early 80s] the Boston

Delayed Linkdump #2429

Changed my wordpress password over the weekend, which threw off my semi-automatic delicious blogging (aka, linkthink). So here’s a semi-manual collection of yesterday’s links — LRB · Slavoj Žižek: Use Your Illusions looks like zizek caught the hope (kinda); here is a sneeze: “Nothing was decided with Obama’s victory, but it widens our freedom and

Flaneur Pajamas

Mute magazine – Culture and politics after the net | I Like Listening to Awesome Tapes from Africa nice conversation about african music, "world music," and new circulations thereof, featuring andy moor, other members of the ex, and /rupture (h/t wordthecat) :: my favorite sentence — "It's not fusion, it's collaboration." (tags: internet worldmusic africa

A Few of My Favorite Things

1) In Obama’s speech last night, he reached out to those who voted against him and did so in an utterly eloquent, firm, and — to my ears — somewhat sly manner: To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices,

PeanutButter & YouTube

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: How We Help Spread Political Messages… 'Four years ago, the activists were using the term, "viral media," and I suppose they still are. If I had my way, the term and "memes" along with it would be retired from our vocabulary of talking about how media circulates. There's something sick and

Shake It Like Onomatopoeia

Beat happening – The National Newspaper jace offers less a review than an extended essay on the sounds, significations, & marketing of a west african / "islamic" hip-hop comp: "Populist, ecumenical, Muslim, fun: Many Lessons is good, right? Yes. … None of this diminishes the fact that the label releasing Many Lessons (Piranha) is using

Port Out Starboard Home Spice

The Elephants Child: ghetto/slum/shanty/bario/hood/favela great post by rachel (as usual) wrt the use of 'ghetto' wrt africa and the depiction thereof in recent film(s) :: "Ok so I'm super amused by a dutch (ngo?) called ghettoradio which posts videos and radio from the 'ghettos' of Africa. Theres something really problematic about what they are doing,

omg cholesterol

The Elephants Child: SeneRap, Rap Galsene : Hip Hop SeneGal rachel makes an interesting point about parallel discussions happening in other places on the network — "It's really fun when I find discussions in the comments on various African music sites engaging similar questions as the folks at and dutty artz." :: this needn't

Talib Qawwali

Gambit Weekly : Sissy Strut : August 12, 2008 nice piece on "sissy bounce" in new orleans (tags: neworleans bounce hip-hop queer homophobia sexuality journalism) Generational Myth – siva takes on the myth of all "kids these days" being "digital natives" fluent in info/communication technologies (as well as the general problem of generalizing and

Mujahideen Dairy

This "Paper Planes" Thing is Way Out Of Control | RapidShare | Blogs | all of a sudden, it seems, "paper planes" has gone downright viral :: whattaya know? (tags: remix hip-hop MIA audio blogpost) The Jamaica Star :: Entertainment :: Overseas party link :: March 19, 2008 "While the major summer events are

linkthink #2303: Remember When Heavy Metal Was Scary

Welcome To ‘The Disco’: Music As Torture – “…Haj Ali, the hooded man in the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs, told of being stripped, handcuffed and forced to listen to a looped sample of Babylon, at a volume so high he feared that his head would burst.” (via caro) :: Babylon, eh? you don’t say

8 Mile on the Nile

In my sha3bi searches last night I came across all kinds of odd & awesome stuff. And I don’t say ‘odd’ as an uninformed outsider (though I am one, relatively speaking), but b/c some of the cha3bi vids one finds are truly bizarre mashups of footage ranging from what looks like a Francophone African music

Unknown Shippers

For really tho, how impossible can it be to send a guitar to Botswana? Post Office says it’s too big for them to ship; UPS wants to charge me more than the thing is worth; and my most recent attempts to send it as cargo via airline (as recommended by my fren there) have been

linkthink #9910: Participation Gap

Musical Tourism, Ethical Consumption and other blog resonances pinging through my mind « UNFASHIONABLY LATE “We try to shuck our inherited identity as tourists or consumers or Orientalists or neocolonialists, and build new identities in their places … that will assure us that our musical choices match up with our liberal politics” (tags: worldmusic global

Notes on Neighborhood

Although my research/interests often turn to (trans)nationalism, lately I’ve been thinking less about nationhood and more about neighborhood — not in terms of an actual space or place (though that’s part of it), but something more akin to neighborliness, to being a good neighbor, to finding an ethics of neighborhood in an intensively globalized/mediated era.