Our Good German friends at .Seen turned us onto Mulatu Astatke, an Ethiopian jazz musician most recently sampled by Damian Marley and Nas – a case of the original remaining far more compelling than the tune sampling it. Astatke’s work is easy to find for download but first try this: his tune My Gubel as the soundtrack to some weird circus party:
AT just 21 years old poet Gil Scott-Heron stepped into a studio and recorded his first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, which included the massively influential The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This after publishing two novels, The Vulture and The Nigger Factory.
He was, it’s fair to say, a precocious genius; and with Jamaican ancestry. A couple more seminal albums came but his career floundered in the late 1980s ironically when hip hop – of which he is credited as a ‘godfather’ – began to take off.
His flame went out just as bright as it had burnt while drugs and prison time ate up much of his last decade. And then this happened: Richard Russell, owner of the seminal XL Recordings visited him at Riker’s Island Prison in New York.
The resulting comeback album, I’m New Here has been called a lot of things like ‘one of the next decade’s next best records’…aren’t we in January? The record is worn with pain, unsurprisingly, with Scott-Heron sounding more like ODB than a 21-year-old himself; and the production a perfect complement.
Schooled in Kingston, Harry Belafonte went on to break billboard records in the US while introducing Caribbean music; became a Hollywood star and perhaps above all, his role in the Civil Rights Struggle. A speech he gave here the other week merely reminded us of the stature of the man.
And today we have the deejays…
He’s pretty good.
As the music industry continues to slide, ‘Independents Day’ celebrates the contribution made by the music lovers before suits, coke fiends and then downloads took over.
Chris Blackwell’s Island Records was the first, founded almost 50 years ago.
But most of all, it was about Grace Jones, says Grace…