Wednesday, September 30, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Shafiq Husayn: Podcast (Mixed by Garth Trinidad)
From Unreleased (Promotional mix/podcast for “En A-Free-Ka” - Plug Research, 2009)

Here's a promotional mix/podcast of Sa-Ra Creative Partners member Shafiq Husayn's upcoming project “En A-Free-Ka,” available starting October 6. It follows his career from his own work, including tracks from his upcoming album, to work he's done for others such as Jurassic 5, King Tee, and Ms. Badu. 60 minutes of goodness that is highly recommended!! (Click the link above to be taken to another page to listen to the podcast.)


Sa-Ra - Fantastic Vampyre (OG version) - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Shafiq Husayn w/ Fatima - Lil' Girl - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Shafiq Husayn - Nirvana - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Jill Scott - Breathe - The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 - Hidden Beach - prod by Sa-Ra
John Legend - Maxine - Once Again - Sony Music - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
King Tee - Trifflin Nigga - The Triflin' Album - Capitol Records - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Jurassic 5 - Twelve - Quality Control - Interscope Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra - we are Ra - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Shafiq Husayn w/ Bilal - Cheeba - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Sa-Ra - Drug Traffika - Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love - Ubiquity Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Erykah Badu - Me - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - Universal Motown/Control Freaq - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Erykah Badu - Master Teacher - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - Universal Motown/Control Freaq - co prod by Shafiq Husayn
Sa-Ra - Bitch Baby- Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love - Ubiquity Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra w/ Pharoahe Monch - Glorious - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra - Master Teazer (Ken's revenge edit) - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Pax Nicholas And The Nettey Family: Na Six Feet (Snippet)
From Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef (Daptone, 2009)

Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band was THE band to be in if you lived in Africa in the 70s. Percussionist Pax Nicholas had been interested in music even as a young kid, from American soul music such as James Brown to the music he sang and performed in in his church choir. So when he lucked into a chance meeting with Fela Kuti, he turned the opportunity into a big break and scored a job as a conga player and background singer with Africa 70.

In addition to cutting material with Fela through most of the '70s, he also cut an album on the side while in Nigeria. The material on Na Teef is classic Afrobeat. “Na Six Feet” has a funky organ at its forefront. Chants are prevalent throughout while Nicholas takes center stage on vocals. Like Fela, this is rebel music.

Most of the songs follow a similar pattern where the vocals don't come in until halfway through the song (sometimes even 5 minutes in) allowing the music to simmer into a funky brew. The BPM meter remains pretty constant throughout keeping an even pace for an unvaried, yet still fresh listening experience.

Due to its limited pressing and Fela's supposed blasting of Nicholas for recording on the side, the album has remained a reclusive treasure. Fortunately, Daptone has unearthed it for the rest of us to hear. Check your local record (and CD) racks for it this Tuesday, September 1.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

I apologize for not posting this sooner. My wife went into labor last week and I have been quite busy taking care of the new mom and baby.

The 3 winners for the Mulatu Astatke and Heliocentrics album are Jim Champion from Texas and Jay Johnson and John Watson, both from California.


1Q. Name the Ethiopian label for which Mulatu Astatke recorded many of his classics in the late 60s and 70s.
1A. Amha

2Q. Collaborating with Mulatu on the new album are the Heliocentrics who are led by this drummer.
2A. Malcolm Catto

3Q. A song on the new album, Inspiration Information Vol. 3, is named after an instrument used by Ethiopian minstrels. Name that instrument.
3A. Masenqo

Thank you to K7/Strut for providing a few copies to give away and thank you to the Soul-Sides faithful for your continued support!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Mulatu Astatke And The Heliocentrics: Epic + Masenqo

From Inspiration Information Vol. 3 (K7/Strut, 2009)

Aside from my Beatles kick I've been on lately as I am eagerly anticipating the recently announced remastered reissues, I've been a bit of a jazz head lately with the recently reviewed P.E. Hewitt Jazz Ensemble and now this Ethio-jazz album from the renowned Mulatu Astatke and his new-found friends in the Heliocentrics.

Astatke, a vibraphonist and pianist, who has worked and performed with the likes of Duke Ellington and Phil Ranelin, met up with the Heliocentrics early last year. The groups hit it off so well that they decided to record a full album.

Inspiration Information Vol. 3 follows in the line of releases from Strut that pairs up current artists/producers with their musical influences from a variety of backgrounds – kind of like the Red Hot + series from the last decade. The album is nearly entirely instrumental – allowing the arrangements to do the talking. One stunning example is “An Epic Story.” It has a haunting riff to it and feels almost operatic (not at all surprising since Astatke has been working on one) with its dark undertone and wide assortment of instruments featuring a nice, understated harp.

It wouldn't be a Heliocentrics release without some semblance of funky psychedelia. “Addis Black Widow” is a rollicking tune that makes you feel like you're trying to tame the lions on a jungle safari... or maybe they're trying to tame you? Elsewhere “Masenqo” features one of the few spots where you hear singing on the album. With its many moods, it goes from jazz-piano beginning to featuring the title instrument, an Ethiopian single-string violin... and then the drums thud their way in. The vocals are just dying to have Timbaland sample them for an off-kilter beat that he's known for.

Bottom line: if you dig the Heliocentrics, you'll enjoy this release as well. If you've never heard a Heliocentrics-featured album, this is as good of a place as any to start. Mulatu and friends do not disappoint here.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

posted by O.W.

(As part of our 5th year anniversary, we're revisiting 20 key songs. This post was originally published on April 23, 2006).

Lijadu Sisters: Life's Gone Down Low
From Danger (Afrodisia, 1976)

(New comments:) Ok, so technically speaking, I actually have never posted this song before, at least, not on its own. I did post it (I think) as part of a snippet from DJs Matthew African and B-Cause excellent Soul Boulders mix-CD, probably the most influential mix I've heard in the last few years based on how many of its songs I've tried to hunt down after first hearing them on there.

"Life's Gone Down Low" has been practically at the very top of that list; I just love the slow burning funkiness of the song and having twin female voices doing the vocals made it all the better. Alas, given that copies of this are really only to be found in Nigeria, it happens to be a legitimately tough LP to come by at any price.

Like the Mighty Voices of Wonder, I also scored this (finally!) on my NY trip and appropriately enough, I got it from JP over at Good Records which happens to be the same place Matthew originally scored his copy. (Moral: Good Records is one helluva spot to score African LPs of all stripes. You should hear the Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou album I got there damn!).

And with that..., so concludes our 5 year retrospective. What I plan on doing (if I can manage the time) is to bundle most (I won't be able to do all) of the 20 songs I've run through and put it on a limited edition CD that I'll give away at gigs and may make - in very limited quantities - available through the site. This whole spin back has just a way to say "thank you!" to everyone for supporting the blog over the years. It's been my honor and continued pleasure to do so.

We're going to throw a 5 year anniversary party in Los Angeles, probably the first Thursday of May - stay tuned for that!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

posted by O.W.

(As part of our 5th year anniversary, we're revisiting 20 key songs. This post was originally published on August 9, 2006).

Fela Ransome Kuti and Afrika 70: Water No Get Enemy
From Expensive Shit (Editions Makossa, 1975)

"I've listened to a decent amount of Fela's stuff over the years but I either just let this slide past my radar or missed it completely but now I'm completely obsessed with it. I was instantly infatuated with it and here's why: like most of Fela's biggest Afro-funk songs, this track unfolds with a steady and sublime patience that reveals depths to the rhythm that might go otherwise missed unless you have the advantage of a longer view. But like "La Murga" what also makes the song such a pleasurable listen is how Fela brings in an electric keyboard...a softer, gentler sound for a song writhing in such thick rhythms and (once again) a monster brass section. The main riff are the horns (just like in "La Murga") but it's the piano that deepens the song's personality and elevates it towards the sublime. Even though the song is nearly 11 minutes, I've put it on repeat over and over and simply lounge into its folds. Heavenly."

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