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Album/Mixtape Review

Album Review: Rocky Dawuni – Beats Of Zion

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“We live in a time when the elements of international morality need to be proclaimed as a guiding principle for how we engage and deal with each other, between individuals, between communities and among nations. It is a time for global mobilization for action on challenging socio-political issues like the environment and the refugee crisis. Beats of Zion is the drumbeat of war against apathy and re-energizing the forces of love and hope.” (Rocky Dawuni)

With such a passionate introduction, it should be clear that Beats Of Zion is no ordinary album, and its creator no ordinary artist. David “Rocky” Dawuni is indeed not only an extraordinary singer and musician, he is also a humanitarian activist (participating in social campaigns with Product (RED), ONE, UNICEF, The Carter Center, Clean Cooking Alliance and the United Nations Foundation) and was nominated “UN Goodwill Ambassador for Africa” last year.

The Ghanaian artist now returns full force to the music scene with a release that bears proof of his truly global influences and outreach. Following its Grammy-nominated predecessor Branches of the Same Tree, Beats Of Zion is his 7th studio album, sporting 13 highly varying tracks. Released on International Women’s Day, it has already enthused fans all over the world – about time we take a closer look at it as well!

Born out of his desire to “use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive”, the songs were recorded in Accra, Nairobi and the prestigious Village Studios in Los Angeles, where the title track Beats Of Zion, the traditional Highlife song Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu featuring Ghanaian lyricist Sarkodie and the sizzling Stonebwoy-combination Wickedest Sound laid the foundation for the entire release. “Ready or not, we a go come with di wickedest sound!”

Further features include the Cumbia-inspired Freedom Train with Argentinian Dancehall star Alika and Wiyaala, “The Young Lioness Of Africa” in Sunshine Day, a cover of the 1975 original by the Afro-Caribbean group Osibisa. All of these songs bear surprises, from melding African elements with Latin beats and contemporary Rap, to the use of Rocky’s native tongue. This refreshing approach is taken further in Let’s Go, fusing 70ies Pop, Reggae and a certain Gospel groove, the contemplative acoustic piece Modern Man or the loungy Turn It Up. An impressive display of musical variety!

Lovers of more traditional Reggae sounds will be satisfied by tracks like the Nyabinghi-inspired Elevation, the modern Mr. Jones, the beautiful Champion Arise (a call to our most powerful weapon, the mind), or the Ganja anthem Burn One, highlighting the economic force Marihuana can bring to a nation.

The album closes with the heart-felt Thank You, which, as most other tracks, shines through the fine instrumental delivery of musicians such as Akwasi Dankwa (guitar), Ronnie McQueen (bass), Anthony Brewster (keyboard and backing vocals) and CC Frank (drums). “Thank you Lord, for letting me be the man I always wanted to be!”

For many of the songs included, videos are already out (e.g. Wickedest Sound and the title track) or announced (e.g. Elevation filmed in southern India), so look out for those! Beats Of Zion is a celebration of the beauty of sounds and melodies from around the world, and everybody is invited to join. Don’t miss out!

Buy & Stream “Beats of Zion” Album here on all global stores:
https://rockydawuni.lnk.to/beatsalbum

Album/Mixtape Review

ALBUM REVIEW: Notes On Blakk Rasta’s New Album ‘Timbuktu By Road’

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On September 2, reggae man and radio presenter Abubakar Ahmed better known as Blakk Rasta offered his latest album; ‘Timbuktu By Road.’

Before an invited audience composed mostly of journalists and other media practitioners at the Alisa Hotel, the man who holds a degree in Land Economy and another degree introduced the audience to his songs on the 32 track album.

Notes on Blakk Rasta’s new album ‘Timbuktu By Road’

According to the dub poet, it took 4 years to put the album together adding 50 songs were pruned down to 32.

The PhD student submitted the album title derived its name from the Timbuktu University in Mali whom he described as the first university in the world.

The originator of ‘Kuchoko’ music, a brand of reggae which Africanizes the music zoomed straight into the first track on the album ‘Dumb Trump’. The song touched on President Donald Trump’s mantra of making ‘America Great Again’ which Blakk Rasta found to be tasteless given the terrorist history of the country. This track featured Ras Boumba.

Blakk Rasta at the album listening

On Kofi Annan, the second track, Rasta touched on the former United Nation Secretary General’s call to the Ghanaian leadership to decriminalize marijuana use. He also recalled a similar call he made about stopping the jailing of folks who use the herb and advocating use of marijuana for many other purposes which led to him being hauled before parliament’s Privileges Committee.

Ashei Lala’ follows on the rank; ‘Dagbani’ for is that how the world is’. Blakk notes this song was poured out from his core upon losing his wife in 2012 noting “it looked like the world was coming to an end.” Those close to him bear witness to the sense of loss the often confident music man felt on the loss of Sakina Ahmed. The tune was recorded live and features drums heavily.

Robert Mugabe’ initially done when the later Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe turned 92, Blakk Rasta upon being a guest of the fallen statesman was commissioned to rework the tune for his 93rd birthday but the strong man was overthrown two months later so couldn’t present the song to him. Blakk submitted when he visited the country, it soon became clear to him, the picture of Zimbabwe as a backward improvised state in the western media was false noting Mugabe treated him and his team very warmly.

On ‘Racists in Uniform’, Blakk tackles the unacceptable incidences of racists police people under the cover of their uniforms shooting unarmed Black men and women dead with no or little consequence.

On ‘Mama Adeline Sings’, Rasta recalls while recording a song at Zapp Mallet’s studio, needed to incorporate a childhood folk song sang to him countless times, but when he couldn’t get the melody right, asked his mum via phone to sing it out, thankfully he recorded her singing on as two weeks later, he got a call his mother had passed on. It turned out her singing was the last communication they had.

Mma Chebsi Ma’ follows then ‘Sambisa Forest’ which the Chibok girls from Nigeria were taken to by raiders. He calls for their safe return, warning there is judgment for all.

‘Jangbari-Zo’, done in Dagbani talks about rat-like friends taking advantage of one’s generosity.

‘On Tears Keep Falling’ ft. Ted I, Blakk submits the song was originally done in August 1974 by a Ghanaian based in England by name Teddy Davies who many assumed was a Jamaican as the tune was rendered in English and some Patois. He stated the song has been sampled by greats such as UB40 and Judy Boucher. Blakk although it’s been 45 years since the song was done, he tracked the original owner down and recorded a new rendition with him. The song centers around a man who is losing his lady-love to another man prompting the tears to roll.

Offering another dirge ‘Bye Bye Kimono’, Blakk Rasta notes that he loved fallen Nigerian reggae star Ras Kimono so dearly observing he was an extremely conscious man. “He mentored me,” he stated. Blakk Rasta notes that Kimono’s death was painful especially when he had dreamt of his passing and called him to share his discovery. Kimono died weeks after his 60th birthday.

At number 12, is the emotional tune ‘Agyankaba’; a tune which went viral when released as a single ahead of the album. On it, Blakk Rasta breathed life into an old highlife tune urging people to treat orphans right.

Jameela’, written while Blakk was in Florida during winter talks of the damsel he desires who could twerk, bend and skillfully handle him yet was a chronic cheat and prevaricating liar.

‘On Tuo Zaafi’ ft. Dave Azi the favourite meal of northern origins involving steamed millet flour paired with green leaves and tomatoes sauce is well celebrated in the Hausa language.

Jangbari-Zo’, and tears ‘Tears Keep Falling’ extended, round up the first 16 tracks of the 32 album.

Zooming into the other 16 tracks, ‘Nubian Woman’ opens things up nicely, where Blakk celebrates the endowments of the Nubian damsel whose behinds are a delight to watch.

Employing Adowa rhythms and reggae, Blakk Rasta emerged with ‘Emefa’, proclaiming his love for the damsel from Ghana’s Volta region.

On ‘Dede’, another pro dance tune, one hears Fati’s name pronounced several times while ‘Shifu’ ft. Maolin Zheng enters the Asiatic zone with Blakk stating imagine falling in love with a Chinese. Done in the pop vein, Ms. Zheng offers crisp singing while Blakk is his jovial self.

On ‘Hajia’, the fifth song, Blakk implores Hajia to come to him utilizing the Hausa language.

‘Saadia’, is African Dance Music (ADM) employing occasional wailing sounds while warning not to harm the hand that feeds. Inspiration for the tune emerged when Ebony sought bailout from NAM 1, who himself has fallen on hard times.

Big Daddy’, done in the dancehall vein, is a boast song which is allowed occasionally to assert one’s supremacy.

‘Chagsi Kalanga’ follows then ‘Taakama’ and ‘Holy Spirit Take-Over’ which sees Blakk entering the charismatic lane charging the Holy Spirit to come bless and heal him as well as take-over. He renders there’s is no God as his.

On the ‘Holy Ghost Party’, Blakk states the fire is burning “here, there and everywhere.” Falling on a regular church song, Blakk is sure to have a good number of Christians groove to this tune. Tune is aided by smooth singing from the background singer. With this tune and others, Blakk shows he is unafraid of experimenting, a trait lacking in other musicians.

With ‘Lagos Boyz’, Blakk Rasta is full of praise for the Lagos people and their way of life as well as style and fashion. It features Knii Lante.

At number 14 is ‘Mus Mus Tail’ followed by ‘Wedding Day’ and rounded up with ‘Obama Dey.’

This is my best album so far,” Blakk Rasta told media men after running through the 32 songs that the album will be launched in March where he will perform the 32 tracks.

I have self-produced my albums since year 2000,” he also revealed urging folks to buy the album which employed Afrobeat, reggae and dancehall elements and available on the digital stores.

(Source: blakkpepper.com)

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Album/Mixtape Review

Once Upon A Wednesday, Music Was Redifined By Sena Huks With His Album – #WhenItsDay

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It’s been years since Sena Huks, the young and talented singer gave us a body of work. Anyone who’s heard him sing knows the world needs more of his pure and appealing voice. 
Lovers of Sena Huks’ music have had to replay the songs they love over and over again while waiting in anticipation or a new breath of fresh music from him.
After months of grueling hard work and days of learning, unlearning and pursuing his passion, Sena Huks is not just going to give new music but he’s presenting the work in one amazingly filled package: an album.

The album, When It’s Day is a clever play on the word Wednesday. He chose this day in particular because of the significant experiences he’s had with the day Wednesday. Aside the most important reason being the fact that it’s his born day, most of what he considers to be his musical magic happened to have occurred on a Wednesday but that’s not all.

For him, Wednesday is an extremely significant word when it’s broken down to the words, ‘When It’s Day’ which clearly means a new day...a new morning, one that comes with a fresh start, new joy and most importantly, light which gives hope. 
Wednesday is also known as the hump day...the day between the dreadful Monday, bleh Tuesday and the excitement of the incoming weekend: Thursday and Friday.

For Sena Huks, after a relatively long and tough struggle through his musical career, this album will be the beginning of his transition to a fresh start.
One that boasts of the emergence of a new generation of ecletic talents and one that inspires people to be original and gives them the freedom to be themselves the best way they can.

The album, When it’s Day will prove to all who have underrated his musical prowess for even a split second, that he’s the answer to a whole new world of amazingly unique music.

Heard the songs on the album yet? Below are the links, do listen and don't hesitate to share. 

Written by; Meg Sagoe

Below are the links to the full album:

Aftown:
https://storefront.aftown.com/view/sena-huks-when-it-s-day-wednesday--5c8f6ffbdb82d

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/gh/album/when-its-day-wednesday/1455571320

Deezer:
http://www.deezer.com/album/89662482

Video link
Youtube:

https://youtu.be/chxeHrAmdCI

Website:
www.senahuks.com

Handles:

Twitter: @senahuks

Facebook: Sena Huks Music

Instagram: Sena Huks Music

YouTube: Sena Huks Music official

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