MIA – #Borders | Where’s your “We’dom”?

MIA is back. She’s going to release a new studio album, named Matahdatah. I’m eagerly waiting its release, but M.I.A. has been steadily releasing tracks and the visually stunning videos that go with them.

The most recent one is Borders. A beautiful, self-directed clip in which she depicts the refugee crisis that’s hitting Europe. In her clip refugees run in straight lines and get confronted with fences they need to climb. They get crammed in small boats, floating aimlessly, and create a larger human boat together. MIA usually in the middle.

But the music video is of course more than just smart choreo. Her lyrics are simple, clear and still manage to grasp the complexity of the situation. She asks harsh, hard-hitting questions, that seem so simple, but still don’t really get answered. Questions that go straight to the point, but politicians and society seem to avoid. To say it in MIA’s words: “What’s up with that?”

Freedom, ‘I’dom, ‘Me’dom
Where’s your ‘We’dom?
This world needs a brand new ‘Re’dom
We’dom – the key
We’dom the key’dom to life!
Let’s be ‘dem”  MIA – Borders

MIA takes this song and uses it as a mirror on society. She doesn’t just look at a difficult situation and asks for pity. No. On the contrary. She asks you to question yourself. “Your values, what’s up with that?”

Egos (What’s up with that?)
Your values (What’s up with that?)
Your beliefs (What’s up with that?)
Your families (What’s up with that?)
Histories (What’s up with that?)
Your future (What’s up with that?)
My boys (What’s up with that?)
My girls (What’s up with that?)
Freedom (What’s up with that?)
Your power (What’s up with that?)”

Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

She proves she understands, by making her message short but powerful.

There’s a reason why she can comment so directly and clearly. MIA’s message is easily accessible and simple to understand. Yes, it’s kind of catchy, but without losing credibility and relevance. She masters her art. The best rappers don’t shy away from complex matters, neither does she. She has the words, the – slightly hypnotic – rhythm, a message, and – very important – a Voice. A voice that carries and is motivated by experience.

Her narrative in previous songs has on occasion also reflected emotions and frustrations of displaced identities, even referenced civil war, migrant status, and the struggle of growing up in scarred neighbourhoods.

In a recent tweet, she also reveiled that her uncle was one of the first Tamil migrants to come to the UK and that he helped her family come over from Sri Lanka.

So now you know why I can’t wait for her album to drop. MIA seems to be a priestess of truth and I hope she keeps on dropping those – visually and rhythmically stunning – bombs, figure of speech obviously.

Wanna see/hear more from MIA? She also released Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border”, which consists of 2 songs: Swords and Warriors, both featured in the clip beneath.

 

Sources: Pitchfork / The Verge / Spin

Nas, Usher & Bibi (want you to) reflect on society in #Chains | #dontlookaway #music #interactivevideo

Unless you have been living on a boat in the middle of the ocean without satellite reception for the last year, you might have noticed there’s something happening in America. Things like the #BlackLivesMatter movement, revolts, excessive violence towards people of colour (and actually people in general) often by people we’re supposed to trust (like police), gun violence in schools and other public places, religious terrorism towards African-American churches, and manic hypocrisy are stirring up society. Or that’s what the media coverage is telling me.

It is heartwarming to see the solidarity that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been able to gather. All the other things are kind of chilling.

Artists have responded creatively, which is why I’m writing about this, because this is not a political blog, but a blog that tries to celebrate the creative reflex of human beings.

Artists like Lauryn Hill, Common & John Legend and Janelle Monae are speaking out and being heard all over the world. Rumour has it that Jay Z and Beyoncé have even been bailing out protesters who ended up in jail.

Now my favourite rapper Nas speaks out too. Actually it’s a collaboration. Usher, Nas and Bibi Bourelly worked on the song “Chains” together, talking about the injustice and making people face the victims it has created, quite literally.

Yeah, yo check
I am Sugar Ray Robinson, Booker T. Washington
W. E. B. Du Bois, I’m the modern one
Yelling at Senators, Presidents, Congressmen
We got a problem that needs some acknowledgement
I am no prison commodity, not just a body you throw in a cell
For any reason, just to bother me
Just for your quota, so it’s rest in peace to Sean Bell
Sleep in peace Eric Garner (Sandra)
Every street, every corner
Conspiracy, new world order
I spoke to Tamir Rice mom and she told me “be strong”
It won’t be long ’til it’s justice
They won’t have votes but refuse the discussion
On how certain cops they shoot us for nothing
Revolution is coming” – Nas, Source: Genius.com

I say “literally”, because the track includes a video project, an interactive music video called “Don’t look away”. The visual experience forces viewers to focus on the faces and stories of different victims of extreme violence and racial injustice. If the viewer tries to look away, the music stops, until the eyes are back on the screen.

Rekia Boyd

Source: Mic.com

How? The artists used groundbreaking interactive technology to design the visual confrontation. The video technology tracks the viewer’s eyes. To do so the streaming service asks permission to access a user’s built-in camera. This way the technology senses immediately when the viewers look away from the screen, that’s the moment the technology stops the music, forcing the viewer to look back if they want to continue the track.

Source: Mic.com | Music.Mic

Source: Mic.com | Music.Mic

The video project can be experienced exclusively at chains.tidal.com.

Beneath you’ll find the video, but make sure to try the video experience as well. It’s part of the message and the way the artists intended their music to be heard.

Oh, and #peace, please.

Sources: Egokick.com / Mic.com / Rollingstone.com / Sojourners / Tidal

Kwabs : Love + War #Replay

Lately I’ve been walking through life on the rhythm of Kwabs’ baritone voice. He recently released his addictive debut Love + War on Deezer and it’s been pretty much on repeat since I first clicked “play”.

Normally I refrain from playing a song I like too often, because I don’t want to risk getting tired of it. Kwabs’ Love + War album however is so diverse, it doesn’t get old. It has so many layers and covers so many different styles, it keeps fitting every mood and still surprises. It varies from poppy tunes (you might get some boysband flashbacks when listening to Fight for Love, don’t know why, I just did), to classic R&B (with nineties and early nillies influences), to deep soul. Instant classic if you ask me.

Most of you might already know “Walk”. It has hit the radio charts hard. Listening to the CD it won’t be the only one of his songs that will demand airplay, they’re all radio-ready. If you haven’t heard “Walk” yet, you can take a listen and look here, because the clip is easily as intriguing as the song.

His lyrics tell complex stories and will speak to you again and again. Heartbreak, relationships, pride, … You usually feel more uplifted after listening to Kwabs. At least I do.

Personal favorite: Forgiven

If it’s too much for you to take,
Then save yourself and walk away
‘Cause we can’t stand on shaken stone
Head to head, two hearts alone

… and Saved

Are the synths and poppy effects not your style? He has acoustic sets too. Go to YouTube and type in “Kwabs” + “original” or “stripped back” and you get pretty damn good music videos with just him, a pianist or a guitarist, and some backing vocals.

At first listen he might remind you of James Blake, whose Retrograde had me mesmerized for a couple of weeks, and you would not be the only one. He even covered The Wilhelm Scream, which is pure bliss.

So if you’re looking for something fresh with substance, an infectious rhythm and a voice that gets under your skin, you might want to give this guy a try. Make sure to check out Kwabs’ YouTube channel as well, because his music video’s are all works of art.

Stromae – First he takes SXSW, then he takes America …

Tipped by CBS, listed next to Seinabo Sey and Chance the Rapper by SPIN, and a major hit on the SXSW Instagram reports. Stromae (aka Paul van Haver) has definitely not set foot in America unnoticed.

Even though his French lyrics may not be very accessible to his mainly American audience at SXSW, this didn’t really seem to be an issue. His music, his beat, his act, they are all universal enough to concoct a comprehensible international symphony. By successfully blending hip-hop, indie, pop and electronic dance music, and infusing that melange with ethnic rhythms, Stromae (French slang – verlan – for Maestro) holds the recipe for international hit chart domination.

April 5th Stromae will kick off his North American tour. He will end the Spring tour 19th of April, when he’ll be playing at Coachella Music Festival (!). He will however be touring again in the Fall, and playing at Madison Square Garden (!!!). Yes, I’m liberal with the exclamation marks, but I think these are pretty WOW moments in a musical career.

More information about his tour dates, can be found here.

In the meantime, the Maestro has time to manage his music label, fashion label and attend all sorts of events. He was – for example – a noted guest at Paris Fashion Week. Making a stylish appearance at the Louis Vuitton and Valentino fashion shows.

And at SXSW he also had some time to set the record straight by explaining that French fries aren’t actually French at all. They are Belgian, and could they please stop lying about it…

And on that note/truth bomb, let’s all just agree with The New York Times:

A pop-star embodiment of a contemporary Europe that’s smart, increasingly heterogeneous, historically aware, anxious about the future, sleekly charming and unfailingly stylish.”

Merci for your beat, Stromae!

i feel ya: SCAD + André 3000 Benjamin

André 3000 has landed a new gig, or actually his jumpsuits have… The jumpsuits he wore on his Outkast tour are being featured in an Art Basel Miami Beach exhibition in conjunction with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

i feel ya

48 jumpsuits, 96 Converse sneakers, one man with a lot of things to say in under 140 characters,” writes Ashley Brozic, Racked.com

The conversation starting jumpsuits, all adorned with ready-to-tweet messages (some critically political, some philosophical, some just nonsensical, some friendly advice, others heartfelt declarations or blunt statements) are prominently featured in the exhibit and have been the talk of the town… and, uhm, tour.

As provoking, humorous and bold as the man who wore them (except for one which was designed for a toddler), these otherwise plain jumpsuits have been able to create a socially dynamic conversation about language, social media and the further context they may or may not refer to.

The infamous Benjamin was also never one to shy away from harsh truths or uncomfortable questions, made clear once again by placing them bold and blunt on the chest of his tour outfits in social media friendly messages. With successful results, especially for someone who never seemed so fond of Tweets, Facebook statuses and Instagram popularity…
Andre3000Benjamin never had facebook
As to why the artist opted for something as simple as a jumpsuit, he had an evenly simple answer:

Because it’s easy to move in, I can easily fold it up, and it’s great tour gear. I can travel across the world and repeat it every night.”

But i feel ya: SCAD + André 3000 Benjamin is more than just that. The exhibition explores fashion, film and painting through the eyes of three dynamic artists, not just André 3000.

The project features fashion innovator-artist-performer-musician-actor André 3000 Benjamin, who designed these jumpsuits to celebrate 20 years of Outkast and made them a crucial part of his and Big Boi’s reunion tour as one of hip-hop’s most legendary groups.

But it also features filmmaker Greg Brunkalla, whose recent work includes interactive installations and advertisements for Nike, HP, and Lincoln; music videos for Vampire Weekend; and a series of intimate celebrity interviews for The New York Times and W titled Screen Tests, which earned him three Emmy nominations and a Webby Award.

Painter Jimmy O’Neal was also an important part of the project. His work focuses on the sciences of physics and biology and he has been featured prominently in international galleries including exhibitions in Holland, Zurich, France and Atlanta. Interesting side fact: O’Neal was listed in the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records for creating the world’s largest painting (80,000 square feet), which sparked his interest in large interactive installations.

In the video below André sits with Paula Wallace, President and Founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), to discuss his Outkast reunion tour and “i feel ya” exhibition.

You can find more information @ SCAD.edu

#TPIA : Café d’Anvers Turning People Into Animals since 1989

Today I’m actually posting a pretty special post. A birthday post. Yes, mine, but also of Café d’Anvers. We are both turning 25 today. Being born in the night of 18 and 19 October, 12.00 precisely, I actually feel entitled to celebrate the entire weekend. Because who is to decide whether I’m an 18 October girl or a 19 October girl… Well, actually my mom was, and she decided 19 October would be the day, but I’m 25 now and I feel old enough to disagree.

Anywayz… I’m not the only one turning 25, Café d’Anvers, a nationally and internationally renowned club, opened its doors exactly 25 years ago. Their slogan: Turning People Into Animals!
And doesn’t that happen to be what I’m doing on this blog, right here, right now?

Café d’Anvers is not one to pass a good reason to party, turning a quarter of a century may be one of those times you want to make memorable. So they did and they will. I opted for a birthday weekend, they chose a birthday month… With an entire birthday campaign, filled with art and spectacular music.
They even hired Steven Lemmens to turn famous artists and celebrities into animals. With a stunning result. Sergio Herman, Amélie Lens, Tanguy Ottomer, Nick Bril and Johnny De Mol all got a make over and look absolutely ferocious.

The artwork will be travelling through Antwerp during the entire campaign, but will land in Café d’Anvers during the birthday weekend, 17 and 18 October. The closing event of the campaign.
Afterwards the artwork will be sold on eBay and will serve a worthy animal inspired cause. (If you haven’t gotten me a present yet, you might want to take this hint.)

But the party itself will probably be pretty amazing itself. Café d’Anvers will be fitted with a new and unique decor, just for the birthday weekend. Antwerp based artist, Charlotte De Cock will get an entire wall at her disposal to decorate as she pleases – but in the theme of the slogan, of course. De Cock’s artwork will then stay on the wall until the next birthday.

Tonight the club will host Chicago legend Lil Louis, aka The Godfather of House. A suitable choice because his hit “French kiss” is also a 1989 baby. Lil Louis will be assisted by Reboot, a contemporary Cadenza artist. And of course Café d’Anvers will also be scheduling some of their residents: Compuphonic and Bollen & Fichtner to finish up their line up.

Yesterday the line up consisted of the best and most notorious of the past residents. Café d’Anvers hosted a ‘Best Of’ filled with artists who played at the club during the past 25 years. Former resident artists the likes of Sven Van Hees (1991-1996), Steve Cop (1994-1998), Koenie (1989-1998), Prinz (2000-2014)and Smos (1991 -2014) took the opportunity and the stage to fire up the club for this special occasion.

Hope to see some of you there to join in on the festivities!
More info @ http://www.cafedanvers.com/

Birthday weekend

Ibeyi : French Cuban Twins with a Yoruba soul, freshly signed by XL Recordings

XL Recordings added a new star to its musical galaxy. Or 2 stars actually. The British independent record label who has also embraced artists the likes of The XX, Jack White and Sigur Rós, signed the French Cuban Diaz twins aka Ibeyi (which means Twins in Yoruba).

A smart move. Ibeyi certainly seems to have that indie glow that makes the XL Recordings stars shine and stand out. Their je ne sais quoi is as rock’n’roll as it is genuine and mystical.

Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz ooze heritage in their repertoire. Their songs, sung mainly in English and Yoruba, take you into a spiritual trance and make you want to echo their prayerlike lyrics and sounds. Because that is what their songs sound like: prayers. Sometimes possessed cries of worship, sometimes honest-to-god pleas filled with devotion to higher spirits no mind can grasp. A sound that is as minimal as it is complex and layered. A perfect blend of modern, electronic influences, acoustic renditions, and traditional Yoruba elements, strung together by a soulful and natural percussion that gets you in and through the rhythm of the tracks and gives every song its own heartbeat.


Although Naomi and Lisa-Kainde mainly grew up in Paris, they do stay true to their Cuban roots and Yoruba culture. They cite some more modern influences like hip-hop, ragga (a sub-genre of dancehall music or reggae), dancehall, soul and electronic music, but also jazz and blues, like Nina Simone. Another important influence seems to be their own upbringing. Being the daughters of famous percussionist father Anga Diaz and a mother who they described to Pigeonsandplanes as “a musician without an instrument”, the musical talent and rhythmic creativity seems to stem as much of the blood as it seems of the mind.

It is thanks to her [their mother] that we are musicians today, and thanks to our father that we knew we could be musicians.” – Pigeonsandplanes.com

Wherever their inspiration comes from, I’m eagerly awaiting what these multilingual, multicultural artists are up to next. But I’m sure XL Recordings will be a productive breeding ground for them. Not really fitting any kind of category, they were asked how they would label themselves, but they also admit there’s no real existing category to file them under.

It is hard for us to describe our music. If we had to we’d say we do contemporary Negro Spiritual, since our music is based on prayer.” – Pigeonsandplanes.com

Make sure to check out their website, Facebook page, and take the time to really discover them and all the facets of their musical portfolio.

Blue Daisy – Cries of the Beast

He describes himself as London’s best kept secret, but with music like this he won’t stay hush-hush for a long time. Blue Daisy (né Kwesi Darko) brings us twisted music that echoes the shadows of London city’s underground. A genre that our labelmaker finds hard to define. So let’s not try.

I can only describe it as a journey through the dark domains of my mind, body and soul.” ~ Blue Daisy, Pigeonsandplanes.com

In an interview with pigeonsandplanes.com he does list a bunch of his influences so as to give you an idea of the roots of his creative juice.

I listen to a whole loada shit across the spectrum, from black sabbath to The Body, from Vashti Bunyan to SZA, from Fever Ray to FKA Twigs, from Aphex Twin to Ben Frost, from Augustus Pablo to Massive Attack, from Beenie man to Dizzee Rascal (Boy in da corner), the list could go on. My sound is influenced by so much around me and so many sounds I hear in my general day to day life, but mostly deriving from a darker foundation.” ~ Blue Daisy, Pigeonsandplanes.com

Hors catégorie, if you ask me. Once he’s on your radar, his sound gets addictive. Bad-ass after-midnight hypnotism. So I advise you to check out the rest of his EP Psychotic Love. And for the instant fans who would like to dig a little deeper and get to know the entire musical spectrum he created the past couple of years, I gladly forward you to Blue Daisy’s soundcloud and also check out his work with/for FACT magazine.

Roar on!

 

Purple Ferdinand – Birds | Some tattoos, some ukelele and so much Soul

Recently my attention got drawn by a new up and coming artist by the name of Purple Ferdinand. A ukelele playing tattoo artist who launched a single titled ‘Birds’. Since I believe every artist who can combine my love for tattoos, ukelele and birds needs to be featured on this blog, I dedicate a post to her.

She brings beautiful songs that are deeply soulful as well as (neo-)folky. The snares of her ukelele pluck and plonk you from happy to sad to blissful tranquility. It’s a lovely vibrating melancholy that once made me fall head over heels in love with the sound of Amy Winehouse. Her sound also brings back memories of that Summer my playlist mainly consisted out of Eliza Doolittle, Corinne BaileyRae, Selah Sue, Jamie Woon and Hindi Zahra. Although Purple Ferdinand’s sound is completely her own, I do believe her songs will make this Summer as happy as that one.

I read on Pigeons and Planes that her debut album, Dragonfly, will launch July 23.

Don’t forget to check out her Tumblr account and Facebook page or her other YouTube videos! Especially Beautiful Anomaly and Speak True are more than worth a listen (x10) to.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Pharrell Williams’ 24-Hour Music Video | Are you watching it?

Apparantly it’s the week of the interactive music video. After the ever amazing Bob Dylan took the web with his interactive video for “Like a Rolling Stone” – 50 years after the initial recording (proving that it’s never too late) -, Pharrell Williams launched his 24-hour music video for “Happy” today.

When you open the clip, it automatically starts at a time corresponding to the local time of the viewer (hopefully you after reading this post). The video offers the ability to fast-forward, rewind and skip around to different times and places in Pharrell’s “Happy” day.

It’s a huge, happy, dance-y, smile-y adventure of a thing with cameos from Jamie Fox, Steve Carrell, Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Jimmy Kimmel, and Magic Johnson, but better yet it just features a lot of normal folks having a good time.” – Miles Bowe, http://www.stereogum.com

It truly did make my day to see all those people smile, twirl, skip, dance and jump around. It’s kind of contagious.

Warning: The song itself only takes 4 minutes, which means you get to hear the song 360 times, during the 24-hour loop. If “Happy” is a beloved song, listening to it 360 times in a row, could ruin it for you. Just sayin’. Up to you to see if it’s worth the risk. 

Visit the website for the full version: 24hoursofhappy.com!

Or get a glimpse over here…

… and don’t hesitate to try the Bob Dylan one as well! His video allows users to surf through 16 different channels and watch a variety of shows, all mimicking the legendary song. Like a crazy mass media karaoke. 

Full version: Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone | music video

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