Afro Punk in the simplest terms is a merge between people of African descent and punk, rock, or other alternative forms of music. On the global scene, “black music” consists of soulful melodies, wicked bass rifts, and is modular or minor based in structure. As people of color we are expected to listen to music from Gil Gelberto, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown, to Mos Def and Mary J Blige. Now they are all amazing in their own right but AfroPunk is a true work of art as well. The fusion of so many genres and sounds is a challenging yet exciting task for the talented musicians who choose to delve into the culture. Many people don’t realize how many similarities there are between these styles of music. In 1977, Bad Brains, one of the most popular bands in the Afro-meets-punk-meets-Rock genre, was formed in Washington, D.C. They also had a heavy reggae influence in their music.
Today my favorite AfroPunk band has to be Game Rebellion. Check out their latest video http://vimeo.com/22968840 “Blood on the Dancefloor”, produced by Royal Ras Productions and Artful Dodger. They are all such incredible people. I saw them live for the first time at AFROPUNK ’10 NYC at the Comodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, NY. The band was too live for the stage. Netic climbed on top of vans. Emi killed the keys, and as a pianist myself I couldn’t help but appreciate his raw talent. Yohimbe hypnotized members of the audience with his outrageous guitar sounds. I mean the entire band was just WICKED. This of course was my first experience in a mosh pit. Which lasted only a few seconds because I just don’t like the concept of someone knocking their body into mine in the middle of a concert. Then I saw The Bots. http://thebotsband.com/media/I_Like_Your_Style.html The most adorable duo you’ll ever hear. 14 and 17 year old brothers who know how to rock the stage and maintain an audience. Bad Brains was there too and dominated the end of the show. I seriously had never seen anything like it before and hope to attend another AfroPunk or similar festival in the future.
From my experience the shows are very energetic, loud, aggressive, and if you know what to listen for, you can hear the heavy percussion that is fused with an African sound… So it’s summer time again and I hope to catch Game Rebellion, Black Vampires or The Bots sometime soon.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the “James Brown” of Nigeria and father of Afrobeat has been sampled by everyone from Nas, Fatboy Slim, Cannibus, The Roots and Mos Def to name a few. So this morning as I’m going through my daily routine searching the iTunes library and google for new musical inspiration, I play some Fela, Janelle Monae, Mulatu Astatke, Tony Allen and Hector Lavoe. What a combination, right?!?!
Check out the link I found to a mixtape released by MonsterMondays called Swizz Beatz vs Fela Kuti Part 1. http://www.soulculture.co.uk/blogs/music-blog/newmusic/swizz-beatz-vs-fela-kuti-pt-1-monstermondays-free-dl/
I’m feeling great! These sounds are all so different yet familiar. I grew up on this music. Records, cassettes or CD’s playing in our home. In my West African dance classes. By the way, I prefer Senegalese… it gets my juices flowing. Lol. At my father’s gigs or in his studio. Concerts with my mother. My brothers’ jam sessions and my sisters and I acting like the I-Threes. As I’m listening I visualize videos I’ve seen and the play Fela! on Broadway, which I saw summer of 2010. A wonderful show produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Inspired by his native African music along with sounds from around the globe, Fela is by far one of my favorite composers of all times. In my humble opinion, his background singers are almost never in tune but they have a place and fit perfectly in the ensemble. The combination of their voices which create beautiful harmonies along with the electrifying dancers is just amazing. Simply dynamic horns and percussion section maintain the beat. West African beat meets jazz, funk, soul, and latin groove. So I’m rocking to Gentleman, Water No Get Enemy, No Agreement and Shakara.
I’m feeling great and I’m excited about what today will bring!
Everybody say Yeah! Yeah!