The Worldmusic Blog (Seckou Kouyate)

African Spring: Batida/Bariba Sound/Gnawa Diffusion

Tagged with: Batida Soundway DJ Mpula Analog Africa Angola Benin Super Borgou Parakou Bariba Sound Bariba Dendi Turn Again Music Gnawa Diffusion Amazigh Kateb Gnawa Chaabi reggae ragga soul pachanga rumba afro beat funk Algeria Morocco Nigeria Ghana Togo Glyn Phillips

Well, it certainly feels like the world music is waking up with the imminent approach of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere!  There seems to a mass of new releases, tours and projects pushing their nodding heads above the forbidding cold soil of winter.

On an African tip, for instance, one of my favourite labels Soundway have today announced the forthcoming release of the debut album by Batida (brainchild of Angolan/Portuguese DJ Mpula aka Pedro Coquenão) which combines samples from old 1970s Angolan tracks with modern electronic dance music (check the link here for more info:

"Batida" is due for release on 26 March 2012 (SNDW 038), but you can preview and even download one of the tracks "Tireí o Chapéu" here:

On another African note, yet another of my favourite labels specialising in re-releasing old albums, Analog Africa, are set to issue a blissful treasure trove of 70s Afro sounds.  

This time, on its fifth expedition to the magical musical world of Benin, they open the vaults of the band Le Super Borgou de Parakou on an album entitled "The Bariba Sound".  

If you liked any of Analog Africa's previous releases (eg "Bambara Mystical Soul - the Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-79", the limited dance editions of "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - The 1st Album"(1973)" and "ROB - Funky Rob Way (1977)", or "Afro-Beat Airways (Ghana & Togo 1972-1979)") then you will love this new album.  

It opens up yet another window onto part of the Islamic Funk Belt of the northern regions of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin.  A raw but heady mixture of Bariba and Dendi folklore, Islamic melodies and soul, pachanga, breakbeats, rumba and afro-beat.  

Very much recommended.  Release date for this is 27 March 2012 (either as CD with 30 page booklet or as double LP gatefold deluxe edition).  AACD 071 / AALP 071

Finally, the French agency Turn Again Music have contacted me to announce the 20th anniversary comeback of band Gnawa Diffusion (led by founder Amazigh Kateb) with plans for a tour to start in May this year and a new album to be recorded this year and released in Autumn 2012.  As they put it: "a travel to chaabi through gnawi, reggae, ragga, rock...".  No other details as yet, but watch this space . . .

Message from Brazil6 - Rappin' Da Rua!

Tagged with: Jota 3 J3 Rap Hiphop Vitoria Espirito Santo Rap Rasta Sou Da Rua Rappin Hood Racionais MC Gabriel Pensador Marcelo D2 MC Marechal Cidade Negra Ja Rule Reggae Tessa Burwood

 Last night I met up with Jota 3 ( - a hard working and well respected MC, singer and producer, originally from Rio, who was brought up in Vitoria. Totally chilled out and full of good vibes. He’s worked alongside some of Brazil's best known hip hop and reggae artists, including Racionais MCs, Gabriel Pensador, Marcelo D2, MC Marechal and Cidade Negra, as well as Ja Rule. He's just returned from Barcelona, where he recorded his latest album “Rap Rasta”.

The coolest thing about “Rap Rasta” - apart from the unabashedly positive, rootsy vibe and quite natural production, is the way Jota 3 has chosen to distribute his work. The album is available for R$6 (about £2.50) at news stands across Espirito Santo, along with a double sided fold out fanzine called “Sou da Rua” (I'm From The Street), which features articles about local street artists, an interview with Rappin' Hood  ( - who is also the special guest on “Rap Rasta” - along with Jota 3's biography, and information on the hip hop and music workshops he carries out in state schools across Vitoria.

This is a truly indie hip hop way to get one's work out into the world. Jota 3 will be touring Europe again next year, if I have any small say in it, he's coming to Brum for sure!

Tessa Burwood for

(Photos of street art and graffiti in Vitoria, by Tessa)

Salsa Britannica (aka the problem with the UK Latin Scene)

Tagged with: Brazilian Cuban General Latin American Reggae Salsa Hombre Elastico

This is an article by DJ El Hombre Elastico
(first appeared on his myspace site:

“One of my abiding gripes is the narrowmindedness of the people promoting/putting on the nights. Sadly, since the later 90s, the ‘latin scene’ in the UK got quickly taken over by ‘dance teachers’ - often people with no knowledge (or love) of the music but with an eye for a chance to make some money.

A night out became nothing more than an extended series of dance classes with people herded together to learn dance moves that they would never actually use on a dance floor, an enforced hierarchy of ‘Beginners’, ‘Improvers’ (yuk!) and the Premier Division (sorry I mean ‘The Advanced’) and an emphasis on ’styling’ and ‘technique’. It’s beginning to parody the film “Strictly Ballroom” - let alone the bit in “Life Of Brian” where he tells his devoted followers not to copy him as they are all individuals. OK, all together now: “Yes, Dance Teacher, We Are All Individuals”.

Let’s face it, the music comes first - it MUST do; otherwise, we might as well dispense with the music and just ‘dance-by-numbers’ - (THINK of the phrase: “1,2,3…pause, 5,6,7″ and say it in your dance teacher’s voice. You see!). Most of these dance teachers can’t even recognise what clave a tune is in. These people have a deep inbuilt fear of new musical trends, as well as a fear of ‘old’ music and anything that does not fit into their boxes of ‘hot-and-spicy-but must-be-classy’ and ‘can-we-make-money-teaching/inventing-dance-moves-to-this?’ In practice this has resulted in the virtual monopoly of salsa music in the clubs (with some merengue) and a nod now and then to bachata and reggaetón.

I’ve been DJing since the late 80s and was, - along with my dear friend and colleague Zuppa Inglese - the first ‘latin music’ DJ in Birmingham (who now remembers the all-nighters at Los Andes restaurant?). This predates the “salsa scene” in Brum (and most of the country outside of London and Manchester).

Back then we would drop crazy big band cumbias, chippy porros, groovy gaita, steamy boogaloos, aching bachatas, rootsy currulao, giddy latin jazz, sonorous rumbas, slow guajiras and son montunos, bouncy bossas, dreamy mpb, manic frevo, as well as bomba, plena, forro, salsa dura, salsa romantica, zouk, kaseko, kompas… in fact anything we could get our hands on and sounded good - and people liked it, even if they didn’t know the “proper” way to dance to it.

Both Zuppa and me still DJ like that to this day. We believe that given a choice most people actually like a variety of tone, pace, dynamics, instrumentation, rhythm, cultural references, etc and there’s no crime in dancing how you want to or even (shock! horror!) actually enjoying the music without dancing to it

(”Quick! Call the Salsa Police! Get this man a 12 week Emergency Dance Course”) KER-CHING!!!

However, in the mid-late 90s it all began to change. I remember dropping some Panamanian ragga and reggae at one Birmingham club, only to have the promoter rush up to me and kill the music (yes, live!) in case I attracted the wrong sort of clientele into his club! Consequently all this has stifled the musical development of the audience and therefore the whole scene.

Guys, it’s no good saying “It’s what the customer wants” - since the vast majority of your ‘pupils’ only hear what YOU play them. Call me old-fashioned, call me arrogant, but I believe there’s a responsibility to inform and even to educate as well (no-one’s saying that it can’t also be a lot of fun).

Latin music is vast and wonderfully diverse - let’s just discover it, share it and revel in it all.