African Vibes | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Interview: Elom 20ce

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Cover artwork for Indigo

 

To say it’s been a while would be an understatement. *removes cobwebs* However, instead of revisiting once again the reasons why I haven’t updated this blog in so long, I’ll simply move right along and present an amazing interview. How’s that for a come back?

Here’s the kicker though: it’s in French. Now, while I would encourage anyone willing to learn my beautiful language to give it a try, I know it’s no easy feat and I don’t expect you all to understand it. So, what I will do is offer you a transcript, so that you all know how awesome my guest is. Elom 20ce is a Togolese MC I mentioned on the blog before, and whose music I played on my radio show a few times, but I finally had an opportunity to meet him face-to-face last week, after knowing him and communicating with him online for over a decade (!!). What was so wonderful about this encounter, besides the fact that I could enjoy his live show and the infamous “Marseille by night”, is that it felt super natural, as if we had indeed been friends in real life for all those years. I just love those moments and I’m really grateful to have experienced them several times over the years. Personal notes aside, Elom 20ce was in Marseille for a few days for his live show and some interviews as part of his international “INDIGO tour”, to promote the album of the same name. After kicking off with two festivals in Ghana, the tour stopped in my beautiful city, before continuing in Berlin, Germany (30th September), coming back to France for a show in Paris (1st October), and finally returning to Elom’s hometown of Lomé, Togo (7th and 22nd October), before ending in Dakar, Senegal (12th November). Phew! With all that said, let me now present the actual interview in French below, followed by the transcript. Enjoy!
 

 
WWOC: Hello and welcome to this special edition of The Wonderful World of Carminelitta, with an interview, something I haven’t done in quite a while. I have the great pleasure of welcoming Elom 20ce, who is hailing from Togo. Hello and thank you.

Elom 20ce: Hello Carminelitta and thanks to all your followers.

WWOC: Thanks to them indeed. So, I met you for the first time yesterday, after knowing you for about a decade, so I’m really happy to do this interview. To begin with, I have a question about Marseille. It was the first time you had a show here, so tell us how it went and what you think about the city.

Elom 20ce: I’ll start with the end. Marseille is a city I really like, it’s a vibrant city, with a great melting pot so that’s interesting. It was not my first concert in Marseille, I did a quick show 2 years ago, in a small library called Manifesten. And yesterday we did Dar Lamifa, which was even bigger, there were not many people, but we are building things and compared to what we did 2 years ago, the audience was reactive and I’m really happy about that. We hope that when we come back there will be even more people.

WWOC: It’s true that the audience was not really present, but it was a great pleasure to discover you on stage. Speaking of this “INDIGO tour”, you started it in Ghana and there are a few upcoming dates, so could you tell us more about it?

Elom 20ce: The INDIGO tour started in Africa and will end in Africa. We started in Ghana, mainly with two festivals, Nkabom Festival and Chale Wote Festival. Yesterday we were in Marseille, we are still in Marseille, on September 30th we’ll be in Berlin, on October 1st in Paris, and then we’re back in Lomé on October 22nd, finishing in Dakar on November 12th.

WWOC: I will normally be able to see you in Paris on the 1st so I really look forward to that. I will ask more in-depth questions later, but we’ll take a quick musical break for now. I’ll play some of the tracks of the album, my favourites, so we’ll start with “Comme un poison dans l’eau”. Could you tell us a bit about this track?

Elom 20ce: “Comme un poison dans l’eau” is a track dedicated to anyone within the system who is working to make the system collapse. Today there are lots of rappers who chose to talk about things that don’t represent the people, it’s their choice. And then there are others who continue to rap about realities, about things indigenous people can relate to, and for me, these are the “poison in the water”. So it’s a track dedicated to all the outcasts.

WWOC: My next question is about the fact that you’re doing hip-hop from Africa (I have another related question coming later). But I was talking about that with someone recently and he told me he couldn’t really appreciate it because for him it wasn’t the type of hip-hop he was used to listening to, because he’s from Paris. Do you think the way you rap and what you talk about are really different from Parisians for instance?

Elom 20ce: I rap about my reality, I talk mainly about Africa in my lyrics and I think Africa is a continent that is everywhere. There are Africans in Paris, there are Africans everywhere in the world. I talk about the facts of life too, my album deals a lot about death for instance. I don’t think you need to be in Lomé or Conakry to talk about these things. They affect everyone. I think my message can touch people everywhere. Oxmo [Puccino] is on my album, he’s from Paris, there’s Le Bavar, who’s also from Paris, and the track was mixed in Paris. So I think maybe the person didn’t take the time to listen.

WWOC: That was my next question actually. I think your message really is universal and it’s true that there’s the Afro-centric element, because you’re from Togo and you live on that continent, so of course that’s your experience, but as a French person, I can still find things in your music that I can relate to, and I think that’s interesting. So, since you already answered that question, and that you mentioned the featured artists… You talked about Oxmo, Le Bavar, who are really well-known in France and who’ve been doing music for a long time. But there are also other MCs who are much less prominent, from other countries, like Germany, and who are also younger. So, was it important for you to bring together several generations and nationalities on the album?

Elom 20ce: Of course. Look at the name of the album, “INDIGO”, that’s the blending of colours, the seventh colour of the rainbow that is not visible to the naked eye. For me it was important to showcase all those talents that are not well-known. There’s Avénon, Prince Mo, Zalem, Sitou Koudadjé, who are not famous but nonetheless very talented. At the same time, it was important for me, when I talked about “indigo”, i.e. the blending of colours, that there were MCs from all over the world. There’s Sir Okoss from Gabon, Amewu from Germany, BLITZ the AMBASSADOR from Ghana/US. So that was done on purpose, because the album is “INDIGO”, so I needed different colours.

WWOC: You just talked about BLITZ the AMBASSADOR, and for this next track I’ll play “Aveugles, bavards et sourds”, which is also one of my favourites. Could you tell us a bit about it?

Elom 20ce: “Aveugles, bavards et sourds” [Blind, talkative and deaf] because I think Africans do not read history. When I say Africans, I mean mostly African leaders who don’t want to read history. They are blind, talkative and deaf, they talk a lot but they should read history and listen. At the same time, it’s also showing 3 Africans rapping in the language of their former colons: German, French and English. At the same time, it’s as if we couldn’t understand each other, because the languages that were imported, or imposed, became barriers between us when we are supposed to understand each other. So it’s the themes I developed: showing people that our leaders are people who are blind, talkative and deaf, and how important it is for us, even if we adopted or were made to adopt those languages, not to allow them to be hindrances to integration and to use them as tools to build bridges.

WWOC: My next question is about your music videos, which are very interesting, and that’s something I really appreciate because I often see rappers making a music video just so that they can say they have a video on YouTube, and they’re just there in front of the camera doing things that are not original at all. So I already appreciate that, and there’s also a very particular theme. Could you tell us a bit about those videos?

Elom 20ce: Thanks for the compliment. For me, the videos are follow-ups to the tracks. I don’t want to do videos that are like a background to the tracks. The videos are a complement to the tracks, because in a hip-hop track, there’s about 4, 5 or 6 minutes at most, and you have a lot to say. So when a video is released, it must support the track. When I write, I like projecting images in the mind of people and when I create the videos I want to imprint those images in their mind so that they are clear. Also, when I create tracks like “Dead Man Walking”, it’s interesting for me to add exclusives. An exclusive could be an intro that I thought was too long in audio form, to include in the album. So I keep the intro and use it in the video. When you discover the video, you realise there’s an intro that wasn’t on the album. So that makes it even more appealing. For me, images are really powerful and it plays a lot in people’s psyche. So for me creating videos means complementing the tracks I already recorded.

WWOC: I encourage you all to go and watch all the music videos available on YouTube. My last question for today is about the fact that you use a lot of references in your music, to African leaders and others. Among those other famous people, you mention a lot of American Civil Rights activists. I think there really is a connection, which makes me think of Malcom X who said that it was not only a civil rights issue, but also a human rights issue. Do you think it’s important to make people realise that the history of American people is linked to the history of African people and other people around the world?

Elom 20ce: I didn’t really tally the number of Black Americans I mentioned, but I think that it’s because they are more well-known. Because I think if you listen to the album closely, I talk more about African leaders, a lot of people who are not necessarily well-known. There’s a question of reference, which is very important in the rap music I create. It’s important to remind people that in Africa, and more specifically in West Africa, historians are kind of MCs. They are the keepers of memory, they pass on the memory, everything is done orally. So they are the ones who will tell you who your grandfather was, who his father was, etc. They are the keepers of this information. When I rap, it’s important for me to follow in the footsteps of this caste of people, the griots, to refer to men who had a positive influence on our history. There’s an esoteric element to it for me. If we forget the work those people have done, it’s as if we were building a house and starting from the foundation all over again. We have a saying: “it’s at the end of the old rope that you weave the new one”. So when we talk about the States, about the African-American leaders, there’s something to connect with Africa. There’s already an existing link to begin with, but also because these are brothers and sisters who went through extremely complicated things but, for 50 or 100 years, fought to achieve rights, even if these are not really effective. If you think about it, 100 years ago Black people were lynched in Mississippi, even if today they are still shot on the streets. But they organised, and used violence and non violence. You had the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King. From moderates to radicals. They never ceased to renew the organisation to face injustice, and I think Africa could get some inspiration from them and vice versa. When I talk about Cabral for instance, he thought culture was important in the struggle. I think influences go both way. Hip-hop is a culture of protest, of militant action. You can’t talk about militant actions in hip-hop without referencing those who are actually out there and who fought in peril of their lives against injustice. In other words, references are very important.

WWOC: As I was saying that was my last question, I’ll play another track now, which is “Fourmis”. Could you tell us a bit about it?

Elom 20ce: “Fourmis” because ants do not make any noise. I think we are in a world where people like to be seen, taking selfies. At the same time, those who are actually doing the work are not seen, because they don’t have time to take selfies. I would like to be like ants, in the way they are organised, the way they work together, the way the help each other. When ants move, they are in a single line, each one has a specific role, they always touch. I think that’s what humans lack. Being humble and hard-working, unifying others. I think humans do not have those qualities nowadays. On this track, I wanted to invite a European who is like a brother to me, Zalem, as well as Sitou Koudadjé, a guy I’ve been rapping with for over 15 years. For me we are a good “ants” team because a lot of things happen behind the scenes that bring us together and allow us to move forward. “Fourmis” because ants do not make any noise.

WWOC: We are back for a quick conclusion. First of all, thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. As I was saying earlier, it was a great pleasure to finally meet you and to see you on stage. So, if you have any last words, do not hesitate. And the last track is gonna be “J’ne pleure pas, ce sont les Oignons…”, which may be my favourite on the album.

Elom 20ce: Thanks for the invitation, it’s a pleasure to meet you in the flesh as well. It’s a pleasure to be in Marseille, because I think it’s a thriving city, where people are welcoming. I really like this city. Go get the album, I think it’s my best project. Go listen and discover it. “J’ne pleure pas ce sont les Oignons…” is a track where we talk about what makes us suffer. What actually makes us suffer: is it the things we create ourselves, or things we have to endure? It’s also about masks people wear: “I’m not crying, it’s the onions…”, as a way to say “I’m not suffering”. I see a lot of people suffering but pretending they’re not crying. This theme was important. And I really wanted to talk about women. I think women in Africa… Before, in ancient societies, women had very important roles and today they are more and more deprecated. I tell the story of a widow. It’s almost a true story, or even a true story. It was important for me to invite Pépé Oleka, who is a Beninese-Nigerian-Togolese singer. It was also important to invite Oxmo Puccino, because we had a lot of conversations about Africa in the summer, during his Blue Note tour when his album “Hipopette Bar” was released. He came to Lomé, we met there, and we talked a lot about the atmosphere in Togo because he was touring several countries. We talked about suffering because he felt the situation was tense in the country. So we thought we would make a track on this topic. It’s also a track where I tell a story. Storytelling is something I’m really interested in for future projects, how to tell stories. I think sometimes the message is easier to understand, since people can relate to it. That’s what’s interesting about this track. It’s a track I really like because musically the African element I wanted to emphasise is perceptible.

WWOC: Thanks a lot. Yeah, was lucky enough to see it live yesterday, and it was also my favourite track from the concert. It was quite impressive. Listen to the track, enjoy, and go get the album!

Now that you know more about Elom 20ce and his music, go get “INDIGO” on his Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below.

Find out more about Elom 20ce on his website, Facebook and Twitter

African vibes: Analgézik, Elom20ce

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Cover artwork for Analgézik

I first told you about Elom 20ce in the very early days of the blog, with an African vibes article that introduced him and his music. I am now very happy to present to you his new album, Analgézik. One of the things I appreciate most when following artists for several years is seeing them evolve, grow and progress. With this album, Elom 20ce proves his versatility and maturity, as he explores more personal themes and uses more varied instrumentals as a background to his well-written rhymes. While he still deals with Africa and its social or political issues, he seems to open up a bit more and share his moments of doubt and darkness. Music is an “Analgézik” though, and allows both the artist and the listener to soothe their pain and heal. When I listened to the first half or so of the album, I immediately thought of some of the 90s French hip-hop classics and more precisely solo projects by Marseillais MCs Akhenaton and Shurik’n (part of the group IAM). The music, the themes, the delivery, everything was reminiscent of this “golden era” and brought me back in time, when I discovered hip-hop and fell in love with it. Despite this throwback element, there is not only nostalgia and you can find modern elements in the instrumentals and of course the lyrics. After this travel back in time, I continued the journey with more eclecticism and some jazzy or even soulful touches that are a change from what Elom 20ce did on previous projects, which is most appreciated. On tracks like Ya Foye or Analgéblues, more precisely, the horns emphasise the lyrics and Kézita’s beautiful voice on the second track makes it one of my favourites of the album.

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Newness for your ears: The Liberators, The Liberators

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Cover artwork for The Liberators

I usually enjoy some very chilled and lazy Friday evenings, after long weeks at work and keep blog updates for the weekend. But today, I was bored and felt like sharing some good music with you to start the weekend the right way. So I dug into the depths of my inbox, to find an almost forgotten gem. As usual I will plead the “better late than never” amendment and ask for your understanding, as well as some forgiveness from Jada from Record Kicks, who put me on this album many (many, many) months ago. Let me tell you more about The Liberators and why their debut, self-titled album is most definitely a must-have.

While I appreciate afro-beat greatly, I need to be honest and admit that I am far from being a specialist. I have heard about Fela Kuti and some of his music, of course, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I guess a little background history and some insight into the birth and evolution of this musical genre could be useful, but the lack of those in no way prevents me from vibing to what I’m listening to. When it comes to quality, energetic, feel-good music, The Liberators definitely have the skills to provide the perfect combination and put a smile on your face while your body starts moving uncontrollably, almost of its own will. The Sydney, Australia-based group present a blend of afro-beat and jazz-dance, as can be read in their bio and that sure sounds good to my ears. On days like today, when the rain doesn’t seem to want to stop falling and the sky is stubbornly grey, The Liberators’ album is a most welcome ray of sunshine that warms me from inside and makes my mind wander to more pleasant settings. The multiple instruments, as well as the live performance feeling of the recording give a very powerful and compelling dimension to the project, which makes it impossible for me to have any kind of negative thought while listening. A wonderful melting pot of jazz, African rhythms, funk and dance, this album exudes an irresistible energy and appeals to a wide audience. While listening to it, I am hypnotised by the percussions, enchanted by the beautiful horns and guitars, which are blended in a perfect ensemble and denote the musicians’ total mastering of their craft. Their name is also very fitting, as they sure liberated me from my weird moods, making them fleeting memories replaced by a huge smile, a will to dance the night away as well as a great hope in better days to come. I need to give two special mentions to Jojo Kuo and Afro Moses, who feature on the most amazing tracks of all for me, those that really gave me an impulse to stop writing this straight away and get my (totally imperfect) moves on, respectively Denga and Liberation. What I will do though, once I’m done with posting, is put the album on replay and dance like no one is watching (which is obviously the case, thank God!).
Music as healing, inspiration, music as a weapon to fight stress and negativity. What else could you ask for?

Now, all I ask you to do is go check our Record Kicks, where the album is available as a CD, LP and even MP3 so there’s an option for everyone. Enjoy and spread the word! You can check out the direct link below and start your journey with The Liberators.

The Liberators – Record Kicks.

Now, just in case you needed further evidence, let me share with you the official “Blaxploitation music video” for Rags to Riches, which blends classic movies with humour and of course awesome music. Enjoy!

More info on Record Kicks

French Touch: Dajla

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Cover artwork for Soul Poetry

    I am quite excited right now and I want to share that excitement with you. I’m always sharing music with you through this blog or my podcast, but I haven’t actually looked for music, as in, done my own research in a very, very long time. Receiving emails or links to new music is always great and I am in no way complaining about not having to do much to listen to some artist I didn’t know. But it is definitely not how I prefer discovering new music. The best way to do it in my eyes, and what makes me feel as elated as I am now is by wandering on the net and finding a jewel, in the same way as pirates were looking for treasures (I am absolutely not implying the job of a pirate is a cool or recommended one). I feel like I just opened the positive version of a Pandora box, it’s not apocalypse that is awaiting but extreme happiness, a present that was waiting for me and that I now need to share with the world. Because that’s what music is meant to be: a wonderful present you have to pass around.

    After this lengthy introduction, let’s go to the heart of the matter. My friend JayTeeDee is a French soul music appreciator and is always asking me for some newness, thinking just because I’m French I know all about my fellow artists. But because I love discovering music from all over the world and I aim to please, I decided to do a little research today. And I didn’t have to look for long before I found Dajla. She is a French singer with Tunisian/Kabyle and Gypsy/American roots (what an amazing combination!) who spent 6 years in London, as well as many more travelling around the world, and she is simply incredible! I’m quite late on this, as her first album came out in 2007 but it definitely sounds extremely fresh to my ears. It also has the perfect vibe for a Sunday afternoon and it may very well become a regular in my weekend playlist. What is quite awesome about this lady is that she is not only a singer, but also a songwriter, pianist and bass player. Working with French producer Benjamin ‘Benji Blow’ Bouton, she is creating some very interesting and quite eclectic music. While her debut Soul Poetry has a very chilled, jazzy vibe, the follow-up The Meaning Of Life is described as ‘a blend of cosmic soul, urban blues, afro-funk and electro-hip hop’. What is constant though, apart from the incredible quality of the production, is Dajla enchanting voice and the wonderfully well-written lyrics. I highly recommend you take a listen to both albums and I am quite confident you won’t be disappointed.

      Just in case you need more encouragement, here is one of my favourite tracks off Soul Poetry, the beautiful I don’t care. Enjoy and discover the whole album on her Bandcamp (support!).

          And because I’m feeling quite generous today, I will spoil you with one more treat. Here is 24/7, from The Meaning of Life (stream on Bandcamp and buy it on The Meaning Of Life - Dajla)

              Find out more about Dajla on her website

              French touch: Você Me Dá (live), Clarisse Albrecht

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              After introducing you to Clarisse Albrecht and her music in the previous post, I am now happy to share more goodness from her. She just put a new video online, from an acoustic version of her single Você Me Dá, performed at Codigo Jamming. I think I already mentioned how much I love acoustic music and this video is yet another way for me to enjoy the beauty of music in one of its purest and most emotional forms.

              Sometimes, less is more is true when it comes to music, as is obvious here. You have ‘only’ a beautiful voice, a guitar and percussions, but you can clearly feel the passion and emotions involved. Something I didn’t mention in the previous post is the beauty of the Portugese language, which is more noticeable here, where you can pay more attention to the words. The sensual and exotic dimensions are still here, and watching this today made me feel good and put a smile on my face. If you are in need of positive vibrations and musical inspiration, have a look and listen to the enchanting voice of Clarisse Albrecht. Enjoy and spread the word!

              French touch: Você Me Dá, Clarisse Albrecht

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              Cover artwork for Voce Me Da

              I first heard Clarisse Albrecht’s beautiful voice and music several years ago through MySpace and I was immediately enchanted by her universe. I have to admit though, that I didn’t really follow her career until now. But I guess I was not meant to forget about her, since I received a very nice email suggesting I give a listen to her latest single, Você Me Dá. What I really like about Clarisse’s music is its eclectism and the wide range of influences it is made of. If you have read my blog regularly, you should know that ‘eclectism’ is one of my favourite words. I greatly appreciate artists that refuse to be put into boxes, to be categorized and to limit themselves when it comes to creativity. Clarisse, because of her mixed heritage (she has French and Cameroonian origins), as well as her early years spent travelling and living in different places in Africa and France, has a desire to express these different influences and incorporate them in her music. The result is a reflection of her personality, her experiences and travels and offers you a wonderful opportunity to travel to different continents and discover other cultures.

              A great example of this eclectism is her new single, Você Me Dá. I find the following description of the song quite accurate: “Combining in a subtle blend deep-house, world music and groove [it] spreads a sensual exoticism”. It is definitely an invitation to close your eyes and imagine you are on a peaceful white sand beach in Brazil, enjoying the beauty of the setting and reflecting on love. And Clarisse’s smooth, sultry voice clearly gives the song a very sensual dimension, enticing you to enjoy long, hot summer nights with a special someone.

              Before presenting you the official video for Você Me Dá, I invite you to discover more about Clarisse by watching this EPK, where she tells us a bit about herself and her music. This is very interesting and it’s a reflection of one of the reasons why I love music, this ability it gives you to share an artist’s universe, and to discover you have many common interests and passions. Enjoy!

              Now that you are immersed in Clarisse’s musical world, you are ready to discover the wonderful Você Me Dá and enjoy the journey…

              Find out more about Clarisse Albrecht: her website & Facebook

              African vibes: Nneka

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              I discovered Nneka quite a while ago and I know many people are already familiar with her music, but I wanted to put her under my spotlight because she is an artist I really appreciate.
              She is yet another very talented Nigerian artist, who expresses herself through her music and makes people stop and think, whether she touches upon social and political issues, or more personal subjects.
              Her music is a very interesting mixture of different genres, from roots, reggae, to rap and soul, with obvious African influences. This makes her message universal and it reaches many different kinds of people, regardless of their musical preferences and influences. What really touches me is her sometimes raw honesty and her dedication. Similarly to Asa and Ayo, she uses her music to spread important messages regarding her native country and her continent, but also to express her feelings and tell about more personal experiences. She sings and writes about life, love, politics, and everytime puts her soul into her words. Her music has an hypnotising quality sometimes and I can’t help but being caught up in it, feeling the beats resonate deep within me.
              She is obviously inspired by other Nigerian and African artists, whether they are musicians or artists, and this is quite clear with the name she chose for one of her albums, No Longer At Ease, which is the title of the famous book by iconic Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Nneka is then part of a new generation of artists who carry the torch and keep spreading messages and ideas initiated by other writers and musicians.
              If you are not familiar with her music, you can check out her albums No Longer At Ease, Victim of the Truth, and her US release Concrete Jungle. I hope you will be as engrossed as I am and spread the word. It’s all about sharing, remember!

              Here is a video where you can hear her declaration of love to her native continent, From Africa 2 U

              And here is Gypsy, off her album No Longer At Ease, enjoy!

              Find out more and check out Nneka’s music: her websiteFacebook

              African vibes: Ayo

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              I discovered Ayo many years ago with her first album Joyful and I was enchanted by the beauty of her music. With a Gipsy mother and a Nigerian father, Ayo has inherited a love for travel and meeting people. She lived in Germany, then London and took over France with her charm and wonderful talent.
              Her music touches me deeply because it’s completely honest and real, she is not afraid to expose her innermost feelings and thoughts, which is something I admire. She doesn’t try to pretend or create a character, she doesn’t mind about what people will think or say about her. That is something I can relate to and which I sometimes think about, regarding my writing. But when I listen to her song Life is real I can understand and share her point of view: basically just live your life as you wish and share your experiences and emotions for people to feel a connection and possibly learn from them.
              Something else that makes her songs really powerful is the seemingly innocence and naivety, which actually show a simple and natural approach to life. The lyrics of her songs are the expression of universal feelings, and show that you don’t always need sophisticated prose to express your ideas. Most of her songs are about love and relationships, and as I said she’s not afraid to tell her own experiences and express her deepest feelings. Some songs are about life more generally, or the political and social situation in Nigeria, but what they all have in common is the beauty of the melodies and the way they make you reach deep inside and feel all these emotions you may not even know were there.

              Out of her two albums, Joyful and Gravity At Last, I have numerous favourites but I just want to highlight several, which I find truly exceptional. These days is a very honest acknowledgement that you can’t be 100% positive all the time and there are some days when you just want to give it all up, days where you are overwhelmed by doubt and questions, which is something I can definitely relate to. On the other side of the spectrum, Thank you is a wonderful song which makes me feel blessed and uplifted, with its beautiful lyrics of gratitude and gospel choir enhancing the power of the words. Finally, Mother is a beautiful heart-felt open letter to her drug-addict mother, a seemingly harsh and ungrateful statement but a deeply emotional one.
              I hope you will be curious to discover Ayo’s musical universe, that you will be as moved as I am and that you will spread the word!

              Now that you know a bit more about her, discover her music and understand what I’m talking about: here is These days. Enjoy!

              And because I mentioned it a lot and really think this is an important message to spread, here is Life is real

              Find out more about Ayo on her website

              African vibes: Elom 20ce

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              Picture of Elom 20ce

              I discovered Elom20ce and his music on MySpace several years ago and I became a fan instantly. Elom is from Togo, Africa and defines himself as an ‘arctivist’. He is a militant artist preaching for a better future for his native continent through music.
              Part of a generation of young educated, politically conscious Africans, he uses his art to make people aware of what’s going on in Togo and more widely in Africa, denouncing the political and social ills plaguing his country and continent. What strikes me is his impressive knowledge when it comes to history, literature and politics, and his desire to share this knowledge in order to make things change for the better. I think this is a wonderful initiative which needs to be supported. He is one of the spiritual heirs of politicians and artists who fought for their beloved continent and tried to open people’s eyes and minds. He mentions many of these people in his projects, including extracts from speeches and lectures, which gives a greater dimension to his message and encourages his listeners to be curious and do their own research.
              Another great thing I admire about him is his impressive lyrical ability: Elom is a gifted poet who uses words as tools to create powerful yet beautiful messages, and masters the art of metaphors, which reinforce the impact of his texts. His texts may be slightly dark sometimes but there’s always hope, this challenged but undying hope, that things will improve one day. He raps in French, so get your dictionaries ready because his message really needs to be heard!
              Musically, his knowledge is quite impressive as well, and he draws inspiration from several different genres. He is obviously interested in rap, from the States and from France, as well as his fellow African ‘arctivists’, but he’s also listening to soul and jazz classics, and more contemporary soulful music. These are influences you can find in his music, whether in the lyrics or in the instrumentals.

              Cover artwork for Légitime Défense

              His latest maxi Légitime Défense is now out and you can download it here. You can also get his previous project, Rock the Mic Vol.1 here.
              I highly recommend you check out his music and spread the word, as he is a very worthy artist and individual.

              Now, you can check out tha video for Ainsi soit-il, off his latest maxi Légitime Défense, which is quite impressive and complements the track perfectly. Enjoy!

              And here is Mon étendard, which initially featured on the Street Performance compilation out in Lomé, his hometown and which is also availabe on Légitime Défense

              Find out more about Elom 20ce: Facebook & MySpace

              African vibes: Asa

              2 Comments

              Africa is a fascinating continent that has a lot of wealth to share, one of her treasures being art. This can take many very different forms but what I’m interested in here is obviously music. African music is the basis for most genres nowadays and has influenced many artists, whether they were aware of it or not. I don’t pretend to be a specialist, far from it, but I just wanted to share some of the music I know and appreciate.
              If you take into account the mixture of a glorious past with a bloody present and a hopefully bright future, you realise that there are as many artistic expressions and messages to spread as there are individuals on the continent. Of course people can’t ignore the plight of the African continent, but they have to spread a positive message and stress the need for love and hope. African music, then, is very rich and varied mixture with endless possibilities, which I want to explore more deeply. For a start, here’s a selection of artists I appreciate…

              Asa is an amazing Nigerian artist who spent the first two years of her life in Paris where she was born, before going to Lagos, where she grew up and spent most of her life. Her music is definitely deeply rooted in her country and is a testimony of the joys and pains of living there.
              Something that is quite striking about Asa is her voice: deep, original and far from the perfectness and smoothness of other singers. What you can hear in this voice is pure, raw emotion and honesty. Asa is not pretending, she’s not trying to fit in any boxes people may want to put her in. She is simply herself, even when that means being “different”.
              Her music is touching on subjects that move her and are part of her life and personal experience, as well as the daily life in Africa and specifically Nigeria. She sings about war, politics, love and relationships in a way that anyone can relate to. Asa is spreading a message that is both deeply related to the African continent and widely universal. Even though you don’t share all of the experiences she depicts, you can still understand and feel the emotions she spreads.
              She sings both in English and Yoruba, and as I said many times before it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, as you can still feel the vibrations. Some of her songs are extremely emotional (most of the time those in Yoruba) and you can’t but be touched by the melodies, you can’t but be moved by the way in which she puts her soul in there.
              Her self-titled debut album is a wonderful collection of musical pearls and makes me travel from emotion to emotion, following the tracks of her journey through life and love. I highly recommend you check it out, if you haven’t already and hope you will be as enchanted as I am.

              Now, to prove what I’ve been saying, here is Fire on the mountain, the first video off her album. This song is about people being unwilling to open their eyes and realise how serious some situations are, until the ‘fire’ is too near for them to ignore it.

              And here is So Beautiful, a song dedicated to her mother, which moves me deeply everytime I listen to it. Enjoy!

              Find out more about Asa: her websiteFacebook

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