I kind of like it when music turns multicultural. I guess it’s because I’m old school and hark back to the days when it all “meant something” but I like a bit of a story with my song.
So my ears pricked up when I came across this tune “The Blues (It Began In Africa)” by Romare over Christmas:
I didn’t know the artist at all but I was interested because it shares a sample with this Chemical Brothers banger which I still like
and I knew the sample came from an obscure album by an obscure artist called Jim Ingram.
(and here’s that sample):
The Jim Ingram record is a kind of poetry joint on the politicised 1970s Al Bell Stax label which talks militantly about the history of Africa (from before the “black prophet Jesus”), slavery and drumming and “the African telephone” passing “messages of soul” and stuff. Sort of crazy Afro-centrics in the style.
A funky and cool period peace of early 70s black nationalism. Which is an area of 60s politics that always sort of interested me being bought up in the times of A Tribe called Quest, De La Soul, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and The Jungle Brothers.
All of which made me a bit more interested in Romare and his EP “Meditations on Afrocentrism”. The record is a cool piece of edgy electronica which to me shares something with the dark drum tracks of another sneaky favourite of mine Shackleton (and in the same style maybe with the tougher style Cut Hands).
And interestingly it starts with a 13 minute cut up called “Footnotes” which piles jungle birdsong with cut up soundbites on Africa, folk music and African music on top of each other. A sort of sound collage of Afrocentrism for the 2000s.
Its very cool and a genuine attempt to thwart its own fear that …
“another generation or two and the only source will be the archive”
I suppose its quite political in its own way really even though Romare, as Clash magazine told me, turns out to be a white kid with a degree. I suppose that was obvious really. And you can read his story HERE
And as I read it I realised that he’d actually “sampled” the name of his act.
So here as yet one more link in the chain is work from African-American painter, Romare Beardon.
I didn’t know him before but these amazing music led collages are pretty wonderful.
As is this pretty dope patchwork quilt thing called “Patchwork Quilt”
And now I have something else to be interested in as well as Romare’s very good music. I hope you’ll like them too.
It’s nice when music comes with a story… However convoluted it may be.