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Beats O’ Plenty

It’s going to be big beats O’ sound for this week’s World Music Show (1/13). From an hour of Afrobeat, with a look at its past, present and future, to some classic Brazilian beats by a master statesmen who worked some hip-hop legends, to some Dub beats as well as some brand-spanking new Latin alternative music, it’ll be Beats O’ Plenty!

To jump start our foray into this magical land, you’ll first have to strap on those ear-goggles or crank up the speakers to just about maximum, since you’ll want to take full advantage of the music.

The history of Afrobeat will start us off--and who better to do this, then one of the co-founders of style, Fela Kuti. Back in the early 70s in Nigeria, he, along with drummer Tony Allen, were looking for a way to answer the beats they were hearing come out of the West--namely Funk, R&B and Soul. So think big horns and quick tempos, similar to a styles coming out of other African countries such Ghana, called Hi-life.

The twist from Kuti and Allen, however, was in the messages of the songs themselves. Nigeria, at the time (though, it still holds true today) was full of political strife. And what better way to seek political change and dialogue than through music? Afrobeat resonates with people by combing powerful beats as well as even more powerful messages. So, in this vein, we’ll hear not only from Kuti, but from his son Seun, too. And we’ll also check out others in the genre, including some classic Nigerian bands such as Madman Jaga, Chief Checker and even Oscar Sulley’s Nezel Soundz, who are actually more akin to Hi-life, than Afrobeat.

For more of the present day Afrobeat sounds, we’ll hear from Kokolo, who are based out New York; as well as from Chicago Afrobeat Project, who, in a “circle of life” moment, got to work with legendary drummer Tony Allen. Plus, we’ll also go local with Richmond’s own Afro-Zen Allstars (who by the way are playing Friday night  at Garden Grove Brewing).

In the second hour, we’ll transition from Afrobeat to a smattering of other beats.

Sergio Mendes is a verified legend--not sure who could verify this, but I will stand by that statement in that he, along with many other Brazilians, was at the start of the Tropicalia movement. This cultural change that happened in the mid-60s became a global phenomenon that yes, gave us “Girl from Ipanema.” But it also brought about artistic change as well in literature, art and film. And Mendes was there for it all.

A few years ago, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas pulled together some of his musician friends and, along with Mendes, released “Timeless.” These tracks weren’t cover tunes from Mendes’ vast catalog but rather an homage with a twist. Songs are infused with the mastery of i.am’s artistic vision. His roster of help include artists such as Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Q-Tip, John Legend and many others. I’ll play a couple of songs off this epic CD.

Then, in a nod to previously mentioned Dub style, we’ll hear tracks from Michael Franti and Spearhead, Janka Nabay and Bubu Gang, Sojo and another Legend--Lee “Scratch” Perry. Perry, like a few of the artists on this week’s show, was there at the starting of Dub. Dub, by the way, is when the bass and reverb controls are turned up or down, or sideways even.

 

 

And not to missed in hour two will be some brand-spanking new Latin music that I freshly downloaded off from the folks at the Nacional Record Label. We’ll hear from bands that I haven’t ever played yet, namely: Sante Les Amis, Latin Bitman and El Mato a Un Policia.

So if it’s beats that you seek, then look no further then to this week’s World Music Show. Tune in at 8pm via this website to stream the show, or head over to 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. Follow the show via Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.