I first mentioned the free compilation Music for Saharan Cellphones here. A month ago Chris Sahelsounds offered a second volume. Music collected on discarded cellphone memory cards & transfered via bluetooth is a very Beyond Digital thing…


Chris writes: “Again, all mp3s collected in the town of Kidal, the quintessential desert crossroad. Some of the track titles are lost to the id3 dustbin of history.”

Two excerpts below, gentle auto-tune and dream-soaked guitar. Grab the entire thing here.

[audio:04 Fenomenal- Mix.mp3]

Fenomenal – mix

[audio:05 Polisario.mp3]



Earlier this year I tweeted: New Africa Proverb #137: It takes a village to make a crazed Auto-Tune fieldwork docu-art project. Well, I wasn’t kidding.

I’m teaming up with Maga Bo, Fader magazine photo editor John Francis Peters, and Taliesen Gilkes-Bower to explore musical innovation in Morocco via collaboration, teaching, documentation, and digital storytelling. It’s a monthlong art project, going down in & around Marrakesh this June.

Our focus? How creative adaptations of global digital technologies in Morocco — such as Auto-Tune use in Berber folk music — are helping to transform youth culture and suggesting powerful alternatives to Western concepts of digital literacy. To learn more & help out :
Beyond Digital: Morocco


Did today happen? Does adulthood exist? All I know is that it’s snowing, again — or maybe it never stopped. The last time I was this tired I was walking through a forest after a show and before the airport. Mudd. Deliciously low visibility. A river. Nature has so many things without off switches. We passed a homeless guy pushing a cart.

Last night’s radio show, now streaming, featured a very informative Benjamin Lebrave from Akwaaba Music.

you can subscribe to the Mudd Up! podcast for downloadable versions, issued a week after FM broadcast: , Mudd Up! RSS. Also useful: WFMU’s free iPhone app. We also have a version for Android (search for “WFMU” in the marketplace).


BREAKING NEWS: Paris-born, L.A./Ghana-based Benjamin Lebrave (aka Bbrave), founder of Akwaaba Music is extending his NYC stay to join us on Mudd Up! radio. Monday January 31st, you can tune in to WFMU from 7-8pm to hear Benjamin play music from his fast-growing label dedicated to African music and discuss his approach, which is refreshingly low on old-school music biz costs and high on context. As he writes:

Akwaaba is dedicated to African music and pop culture. We started Akwaaba because we found it way too difficult to access the music of Africa today. There is no reason for it to be so difficult: there are zillions of new sounds pouring out of thousands of digital studios, all over the continent. And sharing and selling this music is pretty straight forward with this whole internet thing.

Not only is our goal to make this music accessible, we also want to show where it’s from, show who made it, and make sure the people behind the music actually make some money from it: too often, even when the music is available online, the original artists are completely left out.

I’ve spent time with Benjamin in San Fran and Europe, and he’s always got incredible new tunes and a fresh take on what the music industry should be doing in 2011. The fact that he speaks four languages and has traveled widely across Africa gives him a particularly well-informed outlook.

For a quick intro to Akwaaba’s sounds, here’s DJ Zhao’s Akwaaba Music 2 Year Anniversary Supermix:Djzhao – ChopChop Akwaaba Supermix by Akwaaba Music


800px-Sahel Map-Africa rough

[Sahel map, wikipedia]


Silence like stone’s insides:


Tamikrest – Aratane N’Adagh

Empty and full, shame the album isn’t as special as this song. Ousmane Ag Mossa sings and plays guitar, picking his way through a night composed of uncertain pieces. Mali.

tamikrest 1274119056 crop 500x422

I found this song via Sahel Sounds, a blog whose author uses the phrase “Black Moor” a lot. There’s an intriguing post on something I was speaking with Benjamin from Akwaaba about just yesterday: bluetooth cellphone mp3 transfers. Non-internet, wireless filesharing that requires physical proximity… A lot of folks use cellphones for only that, no need for actual talk/text service. So as cellphones across Africa get used for music and video playback, recording, and transmission more than talking/SMSing, it makes sense that Christopher from Sahel Sounds assembles a cassette compilation of Music from Saharan Cellphones [mediafire] – downloadable as mp3s, of course… Also worth hearing is his ‘Sahelsounds promo CD ‘ – leaning more towards field recordings from around the Sahara.



Yesterday’s guest mix & interview by The Sick Girl(s) was excellent thumping late-summer fun, and I’m pleased to announce that on Monday September 13th, I’ll have South African boy wonder Spoek Mathambo live in-studio on WFMU 91.1 FM! Us black internationals gonna throw an on-air Tea Party.

I first encountered Spoek as part of Sweat X, his duo project that I wrote about for Fader’s Africa issue [PDF] two years back. That piece involved a lively interview and allowed me to get the following sentence into print: “Spoek Mathambo is a slippery post-Apartheid glam-rap prince from Soweto who is descended from distant African royalty, or Jewish, or both.”

Since then Spoek has been making steady moves for world domination, rapping, singing, sending me emails about mythical dinosaurs that can stop the flow of a river (and concept band/videos based on same), generally manifesting polyglot amazingness in all sorts of places (Johannesburg, Stockholm, Mrs Internet, Paris, Twitter), and, finally, AMERIKKKA, the country with the best hamburgers & weapons. Although I do love the gun-fetish object on Mshini Wam’s cover:

spoek-mshini wam cover

So. We welcome him to our strange land with open arms. Fader is streaming his album for the rest of today, and we can watch these 2 videos to get some angles into Mr Mathambo’s complex musical visions… (HINT: the damaged Joy Division cover I’ve been playing out since Pitchfork festival last summer is 100% Spoek…. he’s lost control…)



[Manusa, Eureka, Prince Abraham, and Green Dog of CIAfrica]

the compilation I ushered into existence, DJ /rupture Presents CIAfrica, is officially out today! (For more on CIAfrica, try this post.)

We’re giving away a bonus instrumental , and the entire album is streaming:

DA007 DJ /rupture presents CIAfrica by Dutty Artz

listen up, or — better still, take this music out of “the cloud” and support dissonant African music! Remember: MP3s are more real than money. You can cop CIAfrica at Amazon / Turntable Lab / Boomkat / eMusic etc.

Trash Menagerie sez: “CIAfrica are one of the few Hip-Hop projects to coalesce on the African continent that provide an evocative portrayal of political turmoil, cynicism, and outrage. Often filled with the chaos of compressed snares and drums, earth-shaking bass, and lyrical ferocity, CIAfrica is the raw underbelly of West African urbanity, where the marginalized musics of the colonized and the colonizer are channeled by political frustration and economic unrest.”

Pitchfork sez: “The turbulent minimalism of the music is indeed striking and a welcome alternative to most African music that comes stateside, which tends to be sunnier and breezier.”

Icing on the grimy cake: a new CIA video just premiered on Pfork:

Manusa – J’Fuck


CIAfrica coverf

[DJ Rupture presents CIAFRICA cover art, Dutty Artz/Soot 2010]

So the music of Abidjan’s CIAfrica crew does sound a bit like a grimey, glitchy elephant staring you down as angular new-money architecture burns or smolders or looms in the background and the sky’s color stumbles from white to black with a few lasers for good measure, because we’re not living in the future, they are.

(The original cover artwork pictured above is by Timothée Mathelin.)

Sometime last year the visionary ringleader, Amadou aka Green Dog (RZA to their Wu) gave me access to their deep hard drives — packed with singing, rapping & fwd-thinking beats. Thrilling material. I pulled out my favorite 17 songs for a CD which will be released physical/digital on August 24th, DJ Rupture presents CIAFRICA. This coincides with CIAfrica, Nettle, and myself performing at Gotenburg’s Sweden Way Out West festival next Friday, August 13th. I’ll be DJing separately from them, in a party with Sleigh Bells and Fool’s Gold (the band). It’s a 3-day affair, with folks like Wu-Tang, M.I.A., Jay Electronica, The xx, etc performing, so if yr in Scandinavia, might be worth the trip… & I’ve found that drunk Swedes tend to still be really nice, at least in Gotenburg.

It will be the first time the CIAfrica MCs and vocalists perform outside their Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast home base! They have this awesome Pam Grier video for one of their female MCs, Nasty, but it keeps getting censored by YouTube. So here’s a vid from one of the guys coming over, Manusa:

and a placeholder vid for the Nasty tune:



some links/leaks, some mp3s, some youtubery from Finland.

Art of the leak. Hua Hsu connects Big Boi downloads to US military seacrests escaping via Lady Gaga CD drag. Information value related to the chains surrounding it.

A different type of Cage – BP paying academics for their silence. Gag rules.

Post-payola: in this provocative interview, Tommy Boy founder Tom Silverman “divulges a possible shady major label practice of buying iTunes singles with label money in order to hype music up the charts, among other things.”

Binyavanga Wainaina strikes again: How To Write About Africa II, wherein we learn that his original piece first entered in the world as an email rant. Gotta love Binyavanga! I feel sorry for those who haven’t seen Bidoun in its physical form, that magazine-journal-artwork looks good, even if sometimes you have no idea what’s going on.


Here is a song. A slowed-down cumbia rebajada. The most popular version of this is by Super Grupo Colombia — and, frankly, it annoys me. Here Super Combo Dinamico space things out. Their syrupy screw version pulls new details out from the molasses accordion morass. Todo un exito! Unlike Big Mister President Hugo Chavez, the vocalist dedicates his song to Venezuela and Colombia:


Super Grupo Dinamico – La Cumbia del Cuervo


Here is a song. A summer dance HIT from Ghana’s Appietus that’ll be released next week on Akwaaba. Is this a leak? Is this viral marketing? Is broke the new black? What might that mean for us current blacks?

As you contemplate these questions, please consider buying me a book from the Mudd Up! Amazon wishlist. I deserve to be rewarded… for something, surely.


Appietus – Miss Doctor feat. 4×4

“She just wanna wanna commit a crime.” The mp3’s metadata says: “Copy this song, burn it, pass it around, give your mom a copy, and while we’re at, consider buying it [release date: July 27] if you really enjoy it! Appietus put a lot of work into it.” What DO we pay for?

akw020 appietus the revolution cover 1500


LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I just became the 3,975,087th person to watch the following video. Late is better than the new never, which is always. Sample source for the Erick Rincon sublime tuba-enhanced tribal guarachero makeover I posted last week.



…The movies are all in English – the subtitles are in Icelandic. So everyone is watching a subtitled film but me. Everywhere in the world. This is not supposed to be something to cheer about but it is a bland American premium. We may not have health insurance but we have made our language the equivalent of free hot dogs everywhere. For us.

– Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland

+ + +

1972 Guinea. retro-optimism.


Bembeya Jazz National РArm̩e Guin̩enne

+ + +

1985 Huasteca, Mexico. Sliding folktones as the fiddler fiddles the guitarist plucks and the singer pushes, yodels his voice around this tale of lost love. It opens at the seashore: he’s jealous of the waves which don’t know what love is… why did you give me life if you had to forget me? En la orilla del mar contemplaba las olas dichosas eran las olas no sabian lo que es amar… Porque me diste vida si habias de olvidarme?

[audio:02 El fandanguito.mp3]

Trío Huasteco del Pánuco – El fandanguito

+ + +

Next Stop… Soweto, around the same time as Bembeya above, and as beautiful.

[audio:16-Amaqawe Omculo-Jabulani Balaleli (Part 2).mp3]

Amaqawe Omculo – Jabulani Balaleli (Part 2)