Music

Qurba Joog, Are You Listening?

For the diasporic Somalis, heed these words.

PS: I don’t endorse the last WORD on the screen.

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A Puzzle

I take a lot of pride in the music I listen to and where it comes from (not for the reasons you’d think). So there is this song called Nagma that I have two versions of it – one sung by a guy named Mohamed Waryaa and the other one by King Khalid (which is much recent and more popular it seems). There is also a Jabuti (Djibouti) version, which is sung in Anfar and some claim is the original version. I always thought this song was Somali – until I saw this:

Which of course is in Amharic. From the look of the video, the song is much older than King Khalid’s version below. But the Somali-Anfar one from Jabuti does seem to be much older than both. Yet…

This brings me to the puzzle of this song: who made the original song? More precisely, who’s ripping who? I have no interest in the original creator other than just to know. With so much similarities across the Horn, cultural borrowings is inherent in the regions dynamics. But do artists in the region credit the artist’s work they borrow? I hope they do. Then again, the song could’ve been a folksong that goes back hundreds of years; adding to the mystery of its origin.

Anyone know who is the original artist and where it originated from? If anyone is keeping count, there is at least four languages used in this song.

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Feeling This…

Over to you, Mr. Kiba.

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A Legend is No More

On my way back from school today I learned Andy Palacio died over the weekend in his native country Belize from a massive stroke and heart-attack. Palacio is not only the most famous Belizean, but also a national hero. I am so sadden by his death because he single-handedly brought Garifuna music to the world’s attention, and for that matter, saved Garifuna music. It is quite hard to imagine Garifuna music without Andy Palacio but I’m hopeful that he left it in good hands.

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What made me even more saddened is the fact that his last album, Wátina, released in 2007, was a masterpiece. I don’t think there is any word that describes how beautiful Watina is, but I’m glad he left the world with his music, his efforts of preserving Garifuna culture/music and his humanitarianism.

Now knowing his death will make me cry next time I listen to the last song on the album called “Ámuñegü” (In Times to Come), in which Andy reflects about Garifuna music, his fear of Garifuna culture and language becoming extinct.

UPDATE: Below is the English translation of Ámuñegü, thanks to Notes From the Barn

I wonder who will bake cassava* bread for us in times to come
I wonder who will speak with me in Garifuna in times to come
I wonder who will sing Aruumahani** songs with me in times to come
I wonder who will heal us with the dugu** in times to come

The time has come for it to be preserved
The time has come for it to be taught
The time has come for it to be preserved
Lest we lose it altogether

Our ancestors fought to remain Garifuna
Why must we be the ones to lose our culture?
Let’s not do it

Parents, please listen to me.
Teach the children Our language and our songs; our beliefs and our dances

The time has come for it to be preserved
The time has come for it to be taught
The time has come for it to be preserved
Lest we lose it altogether

Lest we lose it altogether

* Cassava bread is the staple food of the Garifuna and it is derived from the manioc root
** Aruumahani is a genre of Garifuna music in which men link their hands and sing a capella. It is a dying art form.
*** The dugu is the traditional Garifuna healing ceremony in which
the extended family comes together to make offerings of food, drinks,
music and dance to the ancestral spirits. It is presided over by a
spiritual healer (buyei) and lasts for a few days.
                         *******************************

To you Andy, thanks for leaving us with your music and for preserving Garifuna culture and music.

Rest in peace.

For those who do not know about Andy Palacio and Garifuna music, here’s a video that’ll help.

Categories: Honorary Acknowledgement, Music | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Things I’ve Discovered in 2007: Music

Yes, it is that time of the year when everyone makes their own list of everything; what they liked, what they didn’t, and certainly what they did not achieve. For me, I like to look back and reflect what I’ve discovered in the year, rather than think about what I did not accomplish. Anyway, discovering new things was a big thing for me in 2007.

Actually, I started discovering new kind of music in 2006 – sort of going back to the music of the mother-continent. My dislike and contempt for contemporary American music started in 2004 because I felt the “popular” music was just getting worst and worst in terms of quality and representativeness. I remember feeling the music was just all similar – no distinct quality at all. Worst of all, most people in my age group were just listening to music that glorified denigration of women and money/bling-blings. I’m obviously referring to hip/hop and rap music. Even Reggae was bad. So I started searching for new music, something different, something that had meaning and soul. I don’t know how I came to go back to the music of Africa but I did…..and how magnificent and rich the music of Africa I realized!

West Africa is the best place in the world for music if you ask me, especially Mali. I have three albums I discovered in 2007 that I really want to recommend to everyone because they are sooo good. First one is an album by Askia Modibo, a Malian reggae/afropop artist called Wass Reggae. I only discovered this album in 2007, but the album was released in 1996. Nonetheless, it’s still fresh and beautiful.

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Think of this album as the equavalent of Bob Marley’s Exodus or Legend but it’s distinctly African at the same time. Every track is a treasure, whether it’s “Ou Va L’Afrique” or “Wadjou,” Modibo’s voice and his band’s beautiful instruments are just a pleasure to listen to. The message of the album ranges from peace in Africa, immigration, spirituality to mundane things like traffic. I don’t know who to compare Modibo’s voice to but it’s something distinct and wholly pleasant. If you ever liked reggae and afropop even a little bit, you have got to get this album – I promise you will never regret it! Download the whole mp3 album at emusic.com so you can make a copy for yourself to listen to in the car or even a friend

The second album I want to recommend is Joyful by Ayo, a Nigerian-German artist that has been described as afropopreggaeneosoul because it is all over the place, which in this case is a good thing. With a Romanian Gypsy mother and Nigerian father, Joyful is not only her debut album but also her identity as a musician. Ayo with an under-accent of the “o” means “joy” in the Yoruba language of Nigeria so listening to her melodious voice and soulful instruments are truly a joy.

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From the opening track “Down on My Knees” to “Help is on the Way” and “Life is Real,” the album never gets slow or similar – it’s always vibrant and distinctly awesome! This is an album for the five o’clock traffic jam when all you want to do is strangle the driver in front of you because it soothes you like the sound of an ocean wave at night and allows to enjoy your day. A must for everyone who ever enjoyed artists like Sade.

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My third recommendation goes to the Lion of Zimbabwe Thomas Mapfumo’s 2006 release Rise Up. thomas-mapfumo.jpg

An album that is packed with everything – socio-political message, melodious voice and chorus, and nearly every instrument you can think of. But for me, it’s Mapfumo’s message and poetic delivery of his music that I enjoy. The chorus reminds you of Bob Marley and the Wheeler’s heyday. With tracks like Kuvarira Mukati (Suffer In Silence) to the haunting tracks of Ndodya Marasha (I’m Mad as Hell) and Vanofira Chiiko (What Are They Dying For?), all directed at Robert Mugabe and his regime. It is funny, in the 1970s when Robert Mugabe was fighting against the racist white government of “Rhodesia” as they were known, Mugabe was being inspired by Mapfumo’s anti-white rule lyrics – in fact, Mr. Mugabe was using Thomas Mapfumo’s music to rally his guerrilla fighters. But when Mugabe’s rule became dictatorship itself, Mapfumo started making music against Mugabe rule. Like the racist white government, Mugabe banned Thomas Mapfumo’s music and has since been in exile in the USA. But to appreciate The Lion of Zimbabwe’s music, I highly recommend Spirits to Bite Our Ears: The Singles Collection 1977-1986 because this album gives you a complete picture of who Thomas Mapfumo really is. Enjoy it like I did.

Other Recommended Music: In no particular order
  1. Lura’s M’Bem di Fora
  2. Salif Kaita’s Moffou
  3. Habib Koite & Bamada’s Ma Ya
  4. Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective’s Watina
*Akon’s sophomore album “Konvicted.” Yes, that’s right – the only “popular” music I actually liked. But let me clarify, I like all the songs in this album except the popular ones i.e. Smack That & I wanna Love You. These two tracks are dirty and stupid but people seem to love them…I don’t get it. Nonetheless, a tip of the hat goes to Akon for the beautiful song “Mama Africa.” It’s simply the best song of the year in my book.

*******

Categories: Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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