The Messengers: Fela Kuti, Bob Marley & Bob Dylan

cc-thumbJ Period and K’NAAN collaborate to form The Messengers mixtape.  The Messengers is a project dedicated to three different music legends: Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s eminent musical activist; Bob Marley, Jamaica’s emissary of struggle and unity; and Bob Dylan, America’s reluctant Civil Rights song leader.

Weaving afro-beat, reggae, ska, folk music and rock into this genre-bending musical experience, The Messengers stretches the boundaries of hip hop—and the mixtape genre itself. Remixing the classic work of Fela, Marley and Dylan, The Messengers captures the timelessness of their sounds and the continued urgency of their messages.

J.Period & K’NAAN will pay tribute to each of “The Messengers” individually with a new release every Tuesday in September:

Fela Kuti (September 1)

Bob Marley (September 8 )

Bob Dylan (September 15)

The Messengers in its entirety (including additional bonus tracks and artwork) on September 22.

Download “The Messenger” (Digi EP), a 3-song sneak preview of The Messengers

Giant Step Resident 49: J. Cole, Big Sean, Fresh Daily & Jesse Boykins III

tomorrow-1-600x5961By Mawuse Ziegbe

Lately, some new artists have hit the interwebs who are down right addictive and, if all goes well, they will be giving fans the shakes on a massive level. J. Cole’s “A Dollar and A Dream II” affixes graceful metaphors about the throes of quarter-life insecurity to a generous piano melody that makes a clean break from the ever-ubiquitous synth-hop. Jay-Z scooped the North Carolina MC as the first signee to his newly-formed Roc Nation imprint; a move that makes sense since Cole has the same low-key cleverness that has rendered Hov a mega-bajillionaire. He’s young so his mixtape The Warm Up has the requisite knuckle-headed sneaker and swagger rhymes. But the clean production has the classic brooding sensibility of jazz-sampled hip hop from Slum Village and Little Brother. Tracks like “I Get Up” and “Losing My Balance” are that good good.

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High Chai Recordings Compiles Goonda And Revolution Rising

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As a 3-headed baby monster with NYC-based producer/DJ/musicians Cenzo (Vincent Schimel), dimmSummer (Sankar Sury) and Bollygirl (DK Khambata) at the helm, High Chai Recordings brings you the best of left field underground breaks. With two releases, GOONDA: Third World Radio and the upcoming REVOLUTION RISING: ethnotechno.com vol. 1 presented by dimmSummer compilation, it is quickly apparent that this trio is serious about bringing you the best dance-floor-heavy sonic offerings from the US, UK and South Asia. Co-founders of the 5-year AVAAZ “love + noiz” monthlies, these resident DJs behind HCR have produced, toured and rocked decks alongside some noteworthy talent worldwide.

Download and stream tracks from Revolution Rising and GOONDA: Third World Radio

Also be sure to listen to dimmSummer’s High Chai Sampler DJ mix

Ancient Astronauts Serve Up Heart Of The Future Mixtape

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With the release of We Are To Answer (out June 9th on ESL Music), Ancient Astronauts have prepared a mixtape for your summer activities in the sun.

From old school hip hop classics, to new school beats, the mix skips in and out of genres, lacing hints of reggae with thick slabs of funk.

More on We Are To Answer

Download the exclusive Heart of the Future Mix (Right-click, save as…)

Heart Of The Future Tracklist

Giant Step’s Resident 19: Bugz In The Attic, Brown Girls Burlesque, The Roots Picnic, J*Davey

By Mawuse Ziegbe

I know a lot of you beautiful flowers were wilting in this weekend’s oven fresh heat but I was cookin,’ honey. And I ran into some children who didn’t let the heat stop them no way. Monday night, DJ Daz-I-Kue of Bugz In The Attic was serving up global burners including fiery Afrobeat, disco and tribal house selections at The Hudson Hotel. And Wednesday night, the fabulous people let me moonlight in their world at the Fashion Delivers Pay It Fashion Forward event (ooh, what a cute pun!) honoring young designers. It was hosted by chipper ex-”House Of Style” host, Daisy Fuentes (ooh, where has she been?) at Marquee. Of course, the hook for me was Janelle Monae who swayed the blasé fashion types with a table dance and blithe accompaniment from her bewigged guitarist Kellindo.

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Janelle Monae © Jason Green

Thursday night, the fashion types gave me a reality check as I partook in a long, storied New York tradition: getting shut out of a party. Giant magazine cover girl Kimora Lee Simmons hosted an issue release party at Indochine. We loitered outside – I was with a writer whose story appears in the issue – while the doormen shooed us away, barking some business about capacity and not being shallow enough (I kid, I kid). After catching Kimora’s dramatic arrival, towering above a clutch of bodyguards (for serious, that woman is like, 10 feet tall. I’m not convinced her name isn’t Kimora Lee Bunyan), me and some other little people went to the House of Campari and did it up royal. The three-story loft housed loads of the bitter Italian liquor with groovy 70s-era commissions lining the walls including a shrine featuring a disco album by Robert “Benson” Guilliame. Outta sight.

Chicava HoneyChild at Brown Girls Burlesque © Vishnu Hoff

Last week, Prince Rogers Nelson got his AARP card and I celebrated by taking in the Shockadelica tribute by Brown Girls Burlesque. You know, instead of choking down EZ-Baked brownies, shimmying topless to “Kiss” is what I always envisioned my imaginary big sister would teach me. It was all fun and boobs as women of all sizes got the crowd all hot and bothered to songs from all eras of Prince. Then at midnight, ladies with hot draggy names like Miss AuroraBoobRealis and Sunshine Fayalicious passed out shots of purple likka (which went down like a fistful of needles). And the crowd went batshit when Dame CuchiFrita, undressing to “Little Red Corvette,” clamped the jumper cables to her…nevermind. You can find out how to join at www.myspace.com/browngirlsburlesque

Saturday, I rode the Chinatown bus in 90-degree heat to The Roots Picnic in Philly (and why was Zoe Kravitz slummin’ it in the seat in front of me?). I love how their idea of “picnic” is an outdoor festival complete with inflatable castles and um, baked bean stands. I caught Deerhoof which was weird; beeping noises and disjointed “rhythm.” Yeah. Although audio problems plagued the day-long concert, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings as per usual, shut it down. And I’ve seen the The Roots googol times and they’re just swell. They rocked everything from their own “Love Of My Life” to a pop medley featuring “SexyBack.” Even legendary bassist Hub came back for a special solo. And 8 hours after the show began, Gnarls Barkley took the stage. Although Gnarls was fine (no funny costumes), the audience was kind of stoned, er…tired and the LSD grooves were not helping. Cee-Lo even asked, “Did you hear the album.” The crowd responded with a slack-jawed, “whaaa?” Blame the ooweee.

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Gnarls Barkley © Mel D. Cole

Sunday night back in NYC I tried to get my culture game up by taking in Rachelle Ferrell at Blue Note. Blue Note is one of those institutions shrouded in New York legend but the performance was memorable because they had zero air conditioning. Or a fan. Or a window. But the heat ain’t stop Rachelle no way and she performed a gaggle of jazz and pop songs until she was literally soaking. And I have never witnessed that level of vocal virtuosity. She would jump from a sharp, tinny falsetto to a cavernous, guttural bass note – in the same word. Can we get a summer blockbuster featuring Rachelle Ferrell dissolving amateurs with her vocal prowess?

Afterwards, I saw J*Davey pack the house at S.O.B.s. Following high-energy sets from Taylor McFerrin and the duo Heavy (homeboy had a key-tar that sprayed spoogy silly string on the audience), Jack Davey and Brook D’Leau, backed by a live band, played a grip of their famously synthy catalog like “Slooow” and even a cover of “Message In A Bottle” by The Police. The highlight was during the slow-jam “No More” when girl-crazy NYC photog Mel D. Cole undressed Jack down to her black bustier and lacy boy shorts. My girl who took the tempo slowdown as a cue to fetch a beverage came back just as Jack pulled on her shirt and chirped, “What did I miss?”

Oh and before I go, FYI: Wale’s “Seinfeld”-inspired Mixtape About Nothing is that good good. Download it (and maybe rub it on your teeth to make them tingle). You’re gonna need something to keep cool.