Beautiful Playlist – Black Music Month 2017

African American Music Appreciation (previously Black Music Month)

Even though Music is universal, and we enjoy Real Life and Real People’s Music, it is also about a culture and its messages and influences.

Here’s a compilation of artists we’ve talked about on Sounds So Beautiful either to discover (live or through interviews/articles), or discuss and analyse their work.

Let’s focus not only on the music from the Black folks in the USA, for music is universal and some of the greatest African American artists’ inspirations take root from other countries, such as South Africa, Togo, Cameroon, France,…

What is more, whatever the country, sometimes, the message from the Black people remains the same…

 

PATRICIA ESSONG

Reprenant des classiques Africains, partageant l’Histoire de sa culture et ses émotions, qui expriment ce qui est au plus profond de son âme, et qui invitent à plonger avec elle dans son introspection, pur moment d’authenticité.

 

ROCKY

Premièrement présenté comme un groupe de pop-electro, leurs différentes influences produisent une musique-expérience, une musique fusion.

S’y fusionnent des nuances Gospel (perceptibles dans les choeurs), Soul et R&B, grâce à la voix très douce d’Inès Kokou, chanteuse du groupe.

Elle y apporte aussi de la richesse, en variant les langues, y plaçant certes de l’anglais mais aussi du mina, en hommage à son cher Togo, sur des musiques faites pour le dancefloor, élaborées par les multi-instrumentistes Laurent Paingault, Tom Devos et Olivier Bruggeman.

TCHOPDYE

Manger ou se faire manger, entre les deux faut-il choisir.

Si TchopDye se définit comme un animal (musical) toujours affamé,

Son instinct de survie tient de sa capacité à se nourrir de diverses influences et à se réinventer.

Aujourd’hui ses principales influences musicales tiennent d’un Hip Hop vif et combattif,

Associé à un électro dense aux melodies et aux percussions fidèles à la culture Afro-péenne du collectif.

Leitmotiv: dénoncer haine (“On légalise la haine de l’autre, c’est bien ce monde qui m’a désintégré”), inégalité des chances (“On a tous des raisons de vouloir gagner, mais on me trouve des raisons de pas avoir le droit de jouer”)…

KENDRICK LAMAR

We just dive into the Jazz Age, back in the 1920’s.
The rich instrumentation stands for the richness of Black Culture
This beauty of the instrumentation is one of the most beautiful score in the album, and this is ruined by the voice of the ratchet girl.

This track is off of an album (To Pimp A Butterfly) that reminiscence of the movement of Black Portraitures: “explores the impulses, ideas, and techniques undergirding the production of self-representation and desire, and the exchange of the gaze from the 19th century to the present day in fashion, film, art, and the archives.”
The way to proceed is to exhibit “comparative perspectives on the historical and contemporary role played by photography, art, film, literature, and music in referencing the image of the black body in the West”.

COMMON

Letter To The Free is the kind of songs that inspire to be actor for Freedom,

Yet the actual actors are these kids who need to believe they value and are more important than they sometimes think.

It is their duty to be aware of that, and to think like a winner,

Just like recalls Jamila Woods in her song Blk Girl Soldier, which includes the “Duty to Fight” chant by Assata’s Daughters.

JOEY BADA$$

The Land Of Free ironically stands for The United States of America, which is actually a land for corruption,

A land where we still call White Privilege out, and we still point out the inequality of chances and prospects,

A land inhabited by generations carrying the name of  their ancestors, or rather the name of their slave owners.

For the ones still picturing the American Dream, Joey Badass comes again to wake everybody up from their dream to reality (cf Good Morning Amerikkka).

 

CHANCE THE RAPPER

If Coloring Book is a Hip Hop/Gospel project, this quote, reference to Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion in Southampton County recalls the origin of Gospel music, which comes from the Negro Spirituals, sang by the slaves.

How Great is the second longest song in the project, after Finish Line/Drown,

This is the masterpiece of this Gospel project, followed by the Blessings suite (1 & 2)

This is the song for Freedom.

 

ALICIA KEYS

Her album HERE suggests so many layers, so many lectures, so many pictures.

Storytelling genius, this album addresses:

Her love for New York pictured without the make up of glamour with a little wink to Nas (1 Luv),

The pains of poverty (The Gospel) and addiction (Illusion of Bliss),

The price of life (Pawn It All), self-depreciation against self-love, emotional break down,

Soul searching, with songs that sound like prayers and therapy, crying at the piano (Hallelujah),

Womanhood, implying feminism, motherhood,

As well as Blackness (You Glow) and Black Girl Magic, to highlight the beauty of these girls grown women in Queens,

Humanism and consideration for war and refugees  (Let Me In project, Holy War).

“If you ain’t in the battle  how you gon’ win the fight”

 

MARY J. BLIGE

Smooth et élegante est l’ambiante production de l’album.

Alors que l’on aurait pu suspecter la Queen de s’aligner complètement sur un style new school,  elle conserve ses couleurs Soul et nuances Jazz au long de légères et magnifiques compositions comme Set Me Free ou Thank U.

Le concept de l’album fait penser à la chanson poignante d’Alicia Keys analysée précédemment, Illusion of Bliss,

L’histoire d’une jeune femme qui se trouve misérable d’être tombée amoureuse d’un homme, tombée comme un ange déchu qui vit un enfer – fin d’une belle illusion.

A la fin, il s’avère que la jeune femme ne veut pas finir de la sorte, préfère vivre et ré-apprendre à s’apprécier à sa juste valeur (Talk to yourself tell yourself “baby, you’re better than this”)

Elle évitera ainsi son auto-destruction, comme le chante Mary J. Blige dans son titre Indestructible.

 

EMANUEL HARROLD

Emanuel Harold has always been conscious about the story of his community,

As he enjoys Jazz’ inheritance and shares it with his listeners from his experience, with the will to inspire.

Just like Gregory Porter, Harrold’s music brings you something even spiritual, for his goal seems to make music that’s bigger than him – “no man is bigger than Human”.

For Special Time, the listener can feel every piece of this track, blended with neo-soul flavors, felt in Saunders’ vocals, and a tastes for hip-hop, felt along the groove of the bass line and the play of drums. Harrold is from that new school jazz style, that’ll mix hints of Gospel, neo-soul and hip-hop.

The mellow tuning produces a soothing atmosphere and instruments actually translates the melting feelings of the composer ; the of trombone sounds like a sigh, longing for home and love.

 

MARLEE IN THE MIXX

A jamming nine-member band made the great difference among all of the Kay Dot’s covers, thus far.
Marlee In The Mixx, aka MITM, finds its light image in the light face of Marlee D, lead singer.
The inspiration takes life in Neo-soul, R&B, Gospel, Hip Hop, Jazz and Groove GoGo.
When they play live, Black Music Session is just on, and you just happen to feel alive again.

 

TUELO

Greatly inspired by Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone as well as David Bowie and Blondie,TUELO masters the art to fuse her South African musical roots with American Pop/Folk with tastes for Rock and Punk music:

That’s what they call “revival music”.

Her fierce vocals, so raw and expressive help her feelings get really communicative.

In Saint Margaret sharp beat of the drums emphasize the strength of her voice, while the guitar strings echo with her wild and loud harmonies.

Tuelo Minah gives you sorrow then makes you want to drop tears of joy, soothing you in a moment of nostalgy and emotions only melodies can describe.

Nostalgy indeed as Saint Margaret is a homage to Tuelo’s mother, Seabi, whose “English” name is Margaret.

GABELO

Wokunyeya, the first-ever track of Gabelo, is one of those rare gems available on double gatefold vinyl, cd and digital.

And, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gabelo’s musical career, the Wokunyeya and Kossiwa EP’s have been re-mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Evren Göknar at Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

You can find more of this great story, the complete discography (9 albums) and Wokunyeya’s freaky video just shot in Togo on www.gabelomusic.com.

« This record had disappeared from the market to the extent that my family didn’t even own a copy of it. So when I found it online, priced at 60€, right next to the great Fela Kuti, I bought it, searched for the others and recovered the rights to the publishing and masters. » said Gabelo’s son, Fabrice Gaba, CEO of TakeOff Publishing.

 

JJ SOULx

Poet, soulful singer/songwriter, sharing her African heritage along her music.
The green of the grass,inspiring a great calm and peace of mind
The tree she’s sitting on, reminding of that Tree of Wisdom we sometimes seek as a shelter
The width of the landscape to reflect peace of an open mind
The smooth dances and the West African vibes, getting us back to the roots…
This track is all so poetic, and all so spiritual, blooming in your mind, like a new blossomy Springtime.

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