Blitz the Ambassador. I’d heard the name but didn’t really know his music. Mind you I’ve been on the periphery of Hip Hop music for several years. There are a handful of current artists that I listen to but Hip Hop has lost some steam from the days of my youth … at least for me. I met Buddha Blaze, the event organizer, back in ’08 during my first trip to Nairobi and I’ve since respected his work as an events and community organizer. If there’s hope for Hip Hop I think it’s folks like Blaze who hold the torch. I got a FB invite from Blaze to Blitz’ album release party and headed out to Ebony Lounge on a wednesday night. I did know that Blitz is a Ghanaian/American emcee who’s work is known for its social-political content. Over the course of a couple of hours a comfortable size crowd gathered at the venue. Blitz came through in classical African time and proceeded to rock the mic. I was thoroughly impressed with his stage presence (mind you he was standing on a bar) and his likeable personality. And of course I appreciated experiencing the full circle diaspora of Hip Hop as embodied by an emcee from the continent. For me the show was a beautiful reminder that Hip Hop is alive and well …. and in fact never died.
Check out Blitz’ new album DIASPORADICAL available on itunes soon.
Ebony Lounge Westlands Road, Nairobi www.ebonyloungenairobi.co.ke
What happens when a Hawaiian born Chinese/African-American photographer, a Somali/Norwegian stylist and a French raised Sudanese/Somali producer meet at Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar? The definition of an Afropolitan experience was put into action; Stone Town inspired the creative globetrotting trio with its Swahili culture of the Indian ocean, African/World music and the idea of a visionary global African diaspora. All these elements create a memorable fashion story that planted Swahili roots in the hearts of the collaborators.
Two weeks ago, my good friend and stylist Liban visited me in Nairobi and scooped me up to Zanzibar to Sauti Za Busara. I arrived into the mayhem and beauty of the magical festival on the Swahili coast. Keeping up with the festival schedule, which had performances from 4pm – 2am from Thursday to Sunday was a bit of a challenge but we did our best. We were joined by the photographer Nicky Woo, who helped document our adventure. In addition to an amazing lineup of musicians, such as Culture Musical Club (Zanzibar), Tcheka (Cape Verde), The Brother Moves on (South Africa), Sarabi (Kenya) and many more, the three of us bonded and had a spontaneous artistic collaboration after an afternoon at Darajani Market, culminating in a photo shoot for a fashion story. I think the pictures tell the narrative best so I’ll let them speak for themselves. Enjoy!
Address: Sauti Za Busara, PO Box 3635, Zanzibar, Tanzania firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +255 24 223 2423 or +255 773 822 294. Website: http://www.busaramusic.org/
I’m officially a fan of The Koroga Festival which is sponsored by Capital FM and takes place every other month in the Arboretum Gardens. Admittedly I’m an outdoorsy person who appreciates intergenerational gatherings … mommas and babas have to get our groove on too! The festival this past weekend did not disappoint. Sauti Sol, one of the biggest names on the East African music scene, gave a rousing performance. The highlight for me happened towards the end of their set when they invited all the youth in the audience onto the stage. The kids had a ball. There were also performances by emerging artists Mayonde and Juliani as well as jumpy castles, a food court, multiple bars and numerous fashion and design vendors. Check out The Koroga Festival facebook page for upcoming events and more pics.
Traditional Kenyan Luo Musicians Joseph Nyamungu and Charles Owoko collaborate with Brittish electronica sounds led by keyboardist Jesse Hackett in the form of Owiny Sigoma. The band performed at Treehouse last month to a diverse crowd of Kenyans and expats. According to their FB page:
The band draws on a broad spectrum of African influences, from Fela Kuti and Tony Allen to the likes of Thomas Mapfumo and Oumou Sangare.
I was thoroughly impressed with their innovative and experimental approach to music. Check out their music at these sites:
Listen to Owiny Sigoma
I met this brother at a fundraiser event – A Note for a Smile: Art & Music for Gaza. We connected immediately. I bought his CD and was captivated by his stirring voice and the way he embodied a connection between traditional Maasai culture and contemporary urban aesthetics. Let’s support this emerging independent artist:
The international community in Nairobi came together in October at “A Note for a Smile: Art & Music for Gaza.” The event raised funds to support health institutions in Gaza that serve those injured during the Israeli occupation last summer.
East African visual artists showcased their work in an art auction. Live musical performances included: Afro-Simba (Mijikenda Fusion); Teto (Maasai Folk); Jahm (Philippino Reggae); Mutinda (Folk) and Idd Aziz (Afro-Fusion). The Designer’s Fair showcased the work of local artisans. My personal highlght of the evening was connecting with a brother form another mother – Teto. I copped his CD that night and haven’t stopped listening to it since – check out his music here.