The AFRican Blogger's MixtapeBy Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

The AFRican Blogger's Mixtape
By Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger
Published on Fri, Aug 17 2007 by Iquo Essien
When I was a youth, I studied classical piano and violin for a decade apiece while coming-of-age in the hip-hop era, though growing up in the suburbs (ie, Dave Matthews Band land) and performing with my family's african dance and drumming troupe, my school's chamber orchestra and choir, and participating in competitions and music festivals. In college, I took a couple music theory classes, a couple jazz history classes, and arranged songs for my a cappella group. That being said, I have an eclectic musical taste that includes any and all good music.

That doesn't make me an easy sell, however, because I will always be a bit of a musical snob from my classical upbringing. My favorites really know how to meld various musical genres together in a compelling way, or otherwise are masters at their particular form. Don't even try to sell me an album with ten different genres on it, 'cause I ain't buyin' it.

I've been hellbent on getting some good music here in S. Africa, but everybody I ask tells me to go to the mall. Though I'm a bit skeptical that there's no "guy on the street" with all the jams -- like back in NYC -- I stopped by Phase 2 CD's at Northgate Mall in Joburg today. They were having a major sale and I left with about a dozen new albums for less than 100 bucks (US). It was a steal.

I've noticed consistently that outside of the U.S., the term world music does not exist. R&B albums from all over the world are stacked together, hip hop, and so on. America's really on some other isht. But let me get off my soapbox. People are always asking me what I think about this or that artist and, after much prodding, I give a whole ten cents. Sometimes I try to keep the past in the past and forget that music was my first love, but it always finds me. Anyways, check out my latest playlist below...I'm not gonna say to much about the albums cause I'm tired of writing. LOL. But if I say they're good, take my word for it.

Peace,

The AFRican Blogger

P.S. And I caught The Bourne Ultimatum today...it was hooooooooooooooooot! I am so diggin' Matt Damon. Shot out to my girl Ukeme, who was DGA trainee on the film (I stayed for the credits, girl! ;).

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JOHN LEE HOOKER :: DON'T TURN ME FROM YOUR DOOR (1992)


I've been digging John Lee Hooker from a distance for at least six years now. This is the first album I own of his and it's soon to be a favorite. Funk was my homie-lover-friend a couple years back, but the blues is slowly stealing my heart away. And JLH's voice slips in your ear and slides right down to your soul. I was almost having a spiritual experience while sampling it at the CD counter today. Please. do. try. this. album. If you're at all inclined towards the blues.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS :: BLUE NOTE REVISITED (2004)


This album features Kyoto Jazz Massive, DJ Spinna, Madlib, J Dilla, Osunlade, Herbert, Bugz in the Attic, Wayne Shorter among others. I think if I listen to it enough it's gonna become one of my desert island discs (you know, one of those you can't live without?). I JUST got hip to Kyoto Jazz Massive, and I think they're INCREDIBLE. These days, if you give me three good tracks on an album, I consider myself lucky. With this one, you're guaranteed at least ten out of 13. Trust me. If you don't get on your knees and pray from more musical geniuses like J Dilla after hearing his "Oblighetto," you need to get your ears fixed.

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MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO :: COOKIE: THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL MIXTAPE (2002)


You don't have to tell me I'm late on this album...I know! This is my first official, bought-from-the-store, Me'Shell Ndegeocello album. Up until now, I've only sampled her jams here and there, content to stick her on mix CDs beside Sade and Angie Stone. Well, now maybe I can call myself a bonafide fan. Of course, I found out about her from Love Jones ten or so odd years ago, then my cousin was in to her after that, then several Spelmanite friends gave me a whole playlist, but clearly it's taken me this long to commit financially. I'm currently in the process of a self-relaunch and perhaps I've only just now risen to her occasion. Some folks jump into music in full ignorance while I, on the other hand, cognizant of the level at which she's working, have elected to poke my toe in the Ocello-ocean ever so delicately. Now preparing to dive in.

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HELICOPTER GIRL :: VOODOO CHIC (2004)


It's a very rare occasion when an artist sells an album to me on cover cred. Case in point, why I've never bought a 50 Cent album (though I'd lo-ove to bounce a quarter off those abs...holla!). But Helicopter Girl (aka Jackie Joyce) drew me right in like a chump, that and the title "Voodoo Chic," which I think I'ma hafta steal or something. But irony of ironies, she's actually quite good. She's what Macy Gray would sound like if she closed her mouth at the end of the phrases. LOL. The British HC is more on the trip hop/electronic tip, which I dig, but if that's not your thing you might not like it. I do think she needs a little more edginess in her percussion and style in general, but she's definitely worth a listen. I don't see why, what with her looks and sultry voice, she isn't plastered on billboards around the world. But hey, I'm no record exec.

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L'VOVO DERRANGO :: BAYANGISUKELA (2006)


Durban-born Thokozane 'L'vovo Derrango' Ndlovu's debut album is the hottest thing in Kwaito music. He was a heavy contender for Song of the Year at the 2006 South African Music Awards for the title track. I'm pumping it right now and I can barely stay in my chair! LOL. If you're looking for a mix of dance grooves, tanned goat skins, electronic, jazz, and just plain sonic cool, mos def check him out.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS/MIXED BY BRADLEY & KHOTSO :: SOWETO HOUSE-STARS (2006)


Soweto-born and bred DJs Khotso Moleko and Bradley Selwoane put together this house compilation featuring Mina Nawe, Mzikinizer, Manoo, Sirus, Tokyo Black Star, and Da Ami. They have more than two decades' worth of experience between the two of them and it shows. You can find this album online, and you should. If you've never been in to house, it'll make a convert of you. If any of you out there know me at all, you know I'm a house head who frequents the Manjinga, Libation, and Bklyn Mecca parties, or if there happens to be music playing randomly on the street and I feel like kicking off my shoes and busting a move. Now, this album has me more excited than when I discovered Vikter Duplaix. LOL. And tomorrow I'm supposed to hang out in Soweto, if my friend's friend comes through (wish me luck!), so I'm ready to be bowled over. I just found out there's a music conference going on next week before I leave. I'll be sure to report back to y'all about what's hot and what's not. ;)

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