French | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Newness for your ears: CHIMIQ, Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero

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Cover artwork for CHIMIQ

Yes, this blog has been pretty much abandoned, but there’s always a day when an album comes out that is so excellent I can’t but tell you about it straight away, in more than 140 characters or a quick Facebook post. Today’s project is courtesy of French favourites Pumpkin and Vin’S da Cuero. Before I tell you about them and the brand-new “CHIMIQ” EP, I have to admit that I have been listening to it on repeat since I received the email from Bandcamp in my inbox an hour or so ago and I’m so obsessed about it already and so eager to share it with you that I took a break from work, after barely getting started. Oh, well.
Also, Pumpkin is one of the few artists whose projects I ALWAYS support and buy (or even preorder in this case). My slowly growing vinyl collection therefore includes most of her previous solo albums, as well as “LE BEAU TEMPS” EP and “PEINTURE FRAÎCHE” LP, her previous two projects as a duo with her partner in crime and official producer Vin’S da Cuero, and I look forward to getting my hands on this one.
Now, about the album itself… WOW! is pretty much how I would sum up my reaction after listening to it for the first time. I had already listened to the title track, which was released recently and complemented by an excellent, original and cheeky video that I highly recommend you watch (link below), and it made me very impatient to discover the whole project. What I can always count on with Pumpkin is a crazy flow and crazier lyrics, which often make me smile and/or utter this succinct but pretty accurate “WOW!”. I use crazy in a good way, of course, and I usually feel pretty bad for people listening to her music who are not francophones, because even if music is a universal language and all that, let’s be honest, they’re missing out. The level of lyricism, technicality, wit and smartness is simply impressive. I was already pretty blown away with “CHIMIQ”, but “SCIENCE FRICTION” (pretty clever pun) is on a whole other level in terms of power and emotion. I’ll get back to the subject matter in a second, but simply in terms of lyrical prowess, Pumpkin definitely stands out. To say she has a way with words would be an understatement and it’s always a pleasure for me to listen to her tracks. Hip-hop is not dead, y’all!
Besides the MC’s skills, another quality of the “CHIMIQ” EP is of course the music, with a return to “boom-bap” hip-hop, after experimenting with electronic sonorities on previous projects. Percussive drums, scratches, and beatbox; you can find all the ingredients for an excellent soundscape that welcomes Pumpkin and the guests’ voices and flows perfectly. Yes, it does make me think of the “Golden Era” of hip-hop but of course it’s very current and another proof that you can pay homage to the past while representing the present. This is also a reminder that Vin’S da Cuero is pretty comfortable with various genres and that’s something you can’t but appreciate from a producer. Also, the aforementioned guests are a most welcome addition to the project, from frequent collaborator Sarah Gessler (Beatspoke) to Vicelow and Sly The Mic Buddah aka Sly Johnson aka TAGi, as well as Neue Grafik and Scratch Bandits Crew on remix duties, and frequent collaborator DJ Lyrik (aka A Cat Called Fritz) on scratches.
Last, but definitely not least, the concept and subject matter of the short project is highly relatable and explored in a wonderful way, from “friends with benefits” aka fuck buddies aka “plan cul” for the French speakers, to how to cope with life’s highs and lows, and domestic violence. “CHIMIQ” is an exploration of how chemistry rules our lives whether it is with sex, relationships or depression. As I was mentioning earlier, “SCIENCE FRICTION” really blew me away, dealing with domestic violence in a very clever and powerful manner. Art is a way to spread messages and I commend Pumpkin for dealing with such an important topic that is too often ignored or downplayed. Once again, that’s quite an incentive to get your French lessons on…

Now that you know more about “CHIMIQ”, you can head to Mentalow Music’s Bandcamp page, or simply click on the link below. Listen, enjoy, and support!

 

 

And in case you need some visual incentive, enjoy the official video for the EP’s title track and get up close and personal with Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero.
 

 

Find out more about Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero on the Mentalow Music website and Facebook

French touch: ɘnvol (vol#1), Tum’Soul

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Cover artwork for envol

Oh, hello there! I know it’s been forever and I actually feel a bit weird, typing this after so long, but I dare to hope this is a “real” come back for me and a new start for The Wonderful World of Carminelitta. I won’t digress and write a long-winded introduction explaining why and how I have been away for so long, as it’s not especially interesting. Instead, I want to dive into the matter at hand, i.e. a wonderful little project I discovered today. Tum’Soul is a very talented French producer I became acquainted with in the MySpace days, but as is the case with many artists I first listened to that long ago, I did not really follow his work until I found him again on Facebook a few years ago. After collaborating with many French soul singers, including Osmojam, Rémi aka Tum’Soul (I’ve always loved the pun in his name, which only French-speaking people can understand) is finally ready to spread his wings and take off on his own. The title of the album, coupled with the incredible cover artwork, is a reference to this new plunge the producer is taking, as well as to the concept of the project. Indeed, the music is very atmospheric and makes you feel like you are soaring high in the sky, floating alongside clouds and travelling to distant lands. After a long week of night shifts at work and plans for my weekend to be all about R&R, ɘnvol (vol#1) is the perfect soundtrack to this Saturday afternoon. In addition to the beautiful music, my ears are also quite delighted to enjoy heavenly vocals courtesy of several of Tum’Soul’s frequent collaborators. A little under half an hour long, the project is both a lovely introduction to the French producer’s universe and a teaser for listeners, who may want more to appease their ears’ hunger. However, the replay factor is very good and it is extremely easy to put ɘnvol (vol#1) on repeat over, and over… and over again. This is probably what I will do today, as the music is very soothing and constitutes a great way to unwind. Finally, because of my very sharp sense of detail, I can’t fail to notice that this album is actually the first part of a series, which makes me rejoice and look forward to what’s coming next.

Now that you know a little more about ɘnvol (vol#1), you can discover the whole project on Tum’Soul’s Bandcamp page, or by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the flight!

Find out more about Tum’Soul on Facebook & Twitter

Exclusive: Better (Teru remix), Cilla K

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Cover artwork for Better (Teru remix)

Cilla K is a wonderful mutli-talented artist from Guadeloupe in the French West Indies who is currently based in NYC and is creating beautiful soulful and futuristic music that pleases my ears. I already told you about the singer/producer a couple of times, but in case you missed them you can catch up with my review of her debut album Fine Line, that was featured on Preach Jacobs’ online magazine Mo’ Betta Soul, or my write-up about New World Lullabies, her excellent sophomore album that was released a few months ago.

Now, to make my ears and yours even happier, she teamed up with fellow French producer Teru, who crafted this lovely remix for You know me better, taken from her latest album. I have to admit I am very excited and happy to present this track exclusively on The Wonderful World of Carminelitta and offer you a double dose of “Frenchness” to enjoy without moderation. More

Video interview: Pumpkin

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Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a French female MC I discovered quite recently thanks to producers Supafuh and Teru, who put me on her music and more specifically her previous album, the excellent Ainsi de suite (that I am very happy to own in its vinyl version). As the talented lady was in London for a few days, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet her and do an interview with her. We ended up in a very nice old-school pub in Baker Street, which was the perfect setting for our conversation. In this interview, Pumpkin tells us about how she discovered hip-hop, London, meeting/working with DJ Vadim and Pugs Atomz, as well as previous and upcoming projects, among other interesting things.
Without further delay, let me present to you Pumpkin, in her own words…

Discover the interview after the jump… More

French touch: Kréyòl Seasoning, Meemee Nelzy

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Cover artwork for Meemee Nelzy's Kréyòl Seasoning

Writer’s block, lack of motivation and inspiration, need for space and breathing, sometimes all those conspire to make blog posts quite difficult to create and in the past weeks they all took turns to keep me away from serious, consistent and regular updates. As is often the case though, a sparkle will rekindle the fire and bring back my enthusiasm and desire to share beautiful music. Tonight, this sparkle is a gem of an album, courtesy of French West Indian singer Meemee Nelzy. I first told you about her back in 2010, with an introduction to her music and debut album Âme Nouvelle and more recently with the single Opposite of us with US rapper DiverSe. After months of more or less patient waiting, we are finally offered the amazing Kréyòl Seasoning. An album that pulls me out of my lethargy most definitely deserves a blog post and it is with great pleasure that I am sharing it with you now.

Taking a slight turn from her debut album, Meemee presents a B-side album where all the tracks are in Kréyòl (most tracks on Âme Nouvelle were in French) and where she invited extremely talented West Indian producers to help her shine and showcase all the goodness they have to offer. A wonderful invitation to discover Kréyòl language, music and more generally culture, the album will make you travel to Guadeloupe in your mind and imagine yourself immersed in all the richness the island has to offer.
Dealing with love and life, Kréyòl Seasoning is blending different rhythms (or spices) from hip-hop to soul and Carribean traditional music, making the project deeply rooted in the islands’ soil but with a universal and international approach. This openness and blending of traditions and modernity makes it very powerful and unique. When it comes to the lyrics, if you are not lucky enough to understand kréyòl, you’ll have to feel the vibes and enjoy the melodious and enchanting voice of Meemee Nelzy. I can kind of guess some of them so I could say I’m halfway there, but I really appreciate this part of mystery that is left and how it makes my imagination work harder.

On top of the elements I already mentioned, what makes the originality of Kréyòl Seasoning is the different collaborations, with West Indian beatmakers and artists but also with US rapper John Robinson, who is featured on one of my favourite tracks, the incredible Nouriti a lespwi. This could have made the project less personal, as Meemee is much less involved in the production as she was with Âme Nouvelle, but this is actually not the case and strength in numbers really works here, as the addition of all the talents only reinforces the singer’s message and once again makes the album both personal and universal. As it is quite different from her debut album, it will be a great complement, not just a new version of the same thing, which is a testimony of her growth and progress. I greatly appreciate that in an artist and I’m very happy to see Meemee shine brighter and brighter and be discovered by a wider audience.
Both Âme Nouvelle and Kréyòl Seasoning will be in regular rotation here and will surely help me find some warmth and brightness whenever I need it.

Now that you know more about Kréyòl Seasoning, all you need to do is head to Meemee Nelzy’s Bandcamp page to listen to the album and of course support her efforts. You can also click on the link below. Enjoy the journey and spread the goodness!

Find out more about Meemee Nelzy on Facebook

French touch: Scraps: Meet & Part Company, Maleiva Kem

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Cover artwork for Maleiva Kem's Scraps: Meet & Part Company

Earlier this week, I was introduced to the beautiful universe of French singer Maleiva Kem and I can say that I am really grateful I was. Her smooth vocals and slight accent on this EP make the lyrics sound delightful and the concept is one that really appeals to me. Scraps: Meet & Part Company is “the pieces of a story that could have been, that once was, that will be, or never will“, it is a story everyone should be able to relate to. I know I can and it is actually slightly eerie that the feelings expressed match some of mine at the moment perfectly. Musically, it is quite difficult to put a label or define clearly what genre it is, which I find quite awesome. It’s more about a moment, an atmosphere that doesn’t need accuracy. There is a floating dimension, which is the kind of sensation you can feel in certain situations where love is involved. This uncertainty you just can’t shake, this desire to enjoy what you have while you can, whether it lasts forever or for a little while but also this doubt creeping into your mind, those what-if”s. The only thing that could annoy me with this project is how short is it, but I guess it’s like those imaginary or doomed relationships, it’s just a fleeting moment that you enjoy, where you simply disconnect from the world around you and let your feelings speak. The only difference is, you can put the EP on repeat. Which I have already done 3 times since I started writing this.

P.S. Special mention for the beautiful cover artwork.

P.S.2 Check out Maleiva’s blog, it’s full of gems: Lost Is The New Found

Discover the lovely Scraps: Meet & Part Company on Maleiva Kem’s Bandcamp or simply on the link below. Enjoy and don’t forget to spread the word. Music, like love, is meant to be shared.

Find out more about Maleiva Kem on Facebook

French Touch: Aldrick

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What is great about inspiration is that once you found it again, you seem to be more open, more receptive to the world around you and you feel the need to express yourself and share your thoughts and emotions. This is what is happening to my right now and I have to say it feels quite good after a rather long period of doubt and clouded creativity. Enough of my private life though, all I wanted to say is that after my two recent posts, I still have a lot to share and I feel blessed for that.
When I said you feel more open I really meant it. I really experience a different kind of awareness, as if my senses were more powerful and my mind more reactive to those feelings I have inside. And I am also connecting to French artists more, which is long overdue. I guess you are all happy to read at least one word that seems to relate to the subject at hand, after this very personal and slightly puzzling introduction. Yes! French music, at last.

Aldrick is one of the numerous artists I discovered “back in the days” on MySpace (I sometimes wonder if this period really existed or if I dreamt it, I discovered SO many artists at this time!). I told you about him briefly in my mini-review of JLS Musique’s DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT when I presented the single he worked on, the beautiful Ce soir. After being mesmerised by Aldrick’s voice many years ago, I have to admit quite shamefully that I didn’t really follow him as I deserted MySpace. But I was meant to re-connect at some point and this time has now arrived. Aldrick is not only a very talented man with an extraordinary voice, he also takes a very original and innovative approach to music, refusing to be put in any box and exploring different genres. This is quite obvious with his latest project, a beautiful EP entitled Dans ma chambre (“in my bedroom”), where he covers French music classics, but with a twist. I have to admit I haven’t been listening to a lot of French music as a child, even though I know all but one track of the EP. I know I have been missing out, as there are some very skilled songwriters in my beautiful country. I mention the lyrics because they play a very important part here. What makes this project so interesting and touching is the fact that Aldrick and his guests sing all the songs acapella. This not only gives me goose-bumps (I am a great fan of acapella) because of the intensity of the emotions carried by the voices, but also allows me to focus on the lyrics and (re)discover them. I am on the verge of tears when listening to some of the songs (especially their rendition of Francis Cabrel’s La corrida which takes a whole new dimension for me and is highly emotional), I feel transported to another world, where I don’t think with my brain anymore, but with my heart. Words can really touch you and I have to salute this initiative by Aldrick to give those beautiful songs an opportunity to shine again. What is also quite amazing is that even though some of the songs were written a while ago (Tous les garçons et les filles was first sung by Françoise Hardy in the 60s), the lyrics are still very powerful and meaningful. If you don’t understand French you will of course not be able to get all the subtleties of this EP, but the voices of Aldrick and his friends should be able to touch you (and make you want to learn the language).

This EP is available on Aldrick’s website as a free download and it is a must have. Listen, indulge and spread the word.

Now, to give you an idea of what this is all about, discover the official video for Tous les garçons et les filles, where Aldrick laments about being lonely while happy couples are all around. It was written by a young woman in the 60’s, but is it obviously very easy for anyone to relate to this feeling. Enjoy!

Find out more about Aldrick and get in touch on his website, Facebook & Twitter

French touch: Sandra Nkaké

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It had been quite a while since I introduced you to some French artists and I am finally featuring an amazing artist I have been wanting to put under my spotlight for a very long time. I don’t really know what took me so long and I hope you won’t be too mad at me for not sharing this treasure earlier. In case you have never heard of Sandra Nkaké, I highly recommend you read the following paragraphs and more importantly you listen to her music. Why? Here is a beginning of explanation…

I can’t remember exactly how and when I discovered the incredible Sandra Nkaké, but she is one of those artists I feel like I have known forever. She exudes such an energy and has such a character that makes you think she could be a friend or even a family member. She is strong, proud, bold and beautiful. I may also feel a connection with her because she was a fellow English student. In any case, she is a wonderfully talented woman you need to discover if you have never heard of her before.
She has an incredible presence, a mixture of strength and sensitivity, and she definitely knows how to touch you with her words. She expresses her thoughts and feeling beautifully and poetically but at the same time with a sort of bluntness that can’t left you unmoved. Mother, lover, daughter, she is, like many women, a multi-faceted individual who infuses her music with all the different sides of her personality, her qualities and weaknesses, all the while being very honest and at times “raw”.
What makes her stand out, apart from her charisma and the great quality of her lyrics, is her warm, deep and powerful voice. This voice carries her story, but also that of her ancestors. Sandra Nkaké is the representative of both Cameroonian and French legacies and she weaves her music with all the aspects of those cultures, making it very personal but at the same time universal. There is clearly something spiritual about her art, something that takes you on a journey and makes you reach higher levels of emotion and understanding. I don’t think it is possible to listen to her music and not feel your heart beating faster, as it is quite unlikely you will hear her voice and not feel goose-bumps all over your skin. This is definitely how I feel every time I listen to Mansaadi (“little mother”), her debut album.
This gem contains songs both in French and English and is a testimony of the woman that she is, her experiences of life, love and loss, her darkness and her rays of light. It is deep, sad, inspiring, positive and entertaining. It will bring you to tears and will put a smile on your face. It will make you feel strong and ready to achieve your dreams. Quite simply, it is a ride on the rollercoaster that life is. And if you’re ready for the journey, you will probably not regret jumping on board.

Now, to convince you of the lady’s exceptional talent, I will share with you some videos. If you’re not hooked after that, I’m sorry but I can’t do anything else to help. First, one of my favourite videos from her is a cover of D’angelo’s “Higher”. Taking the classic and making it her own, she gives a beautiful heartfelt rendition of the track and makes it very powerful and emotional.

Then, a very inspiring track and one of my favourites on Mansaadi is the beautiful Stay true. This is really the kind of music you should listen to when you’re feeling down. It will most probably help raise your spirits.

Finally, another one of my favourites is the wonderful I believe. Enjoy!

Now, please go check out the album on Mansaadi - Sandra Nkaké. Oh, and spread the word!

Sandra Nkaké is working on her second album, Nothing For Granted, which should come out soon. In the meantime, stay tuned on her website, Facebook & Twitter.

French touch: Our Hopes And Dreams, J&D

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Cover artwork for Our Hopes And Dreams

As I was checking my inbox and catching up on older emails, I was reminded of this very nice project courtesy of French beatmakers J&D. If you are not familiar with their music, you can discover one of their previous projects, Tout est pour le mieux, which I presented back in February. Since then, J&D have already released two beat tapes, including the funky J&D With James. But the one I want to tell you about now is the latest, the beautifully-named Our Hopes And Dreams. I have to say I feel a bit sorry for non-French-speaking people, as they are obviously missing out a lot from the very funny introduction to the project the two music-makers wrote for promotional purposes. But I guess you can’t have everything… What is great though is that whether you speak French or not, you will be able to indulge in the beauty of this project and nod your head over the catchy yet soulful beats. Sampling well-known or more obscure tracks, going back in time to dig treasures or using more recent material, J&D make you travel through time and space with a lovely selection of beats that really make you feel good inside. I am listening to it right now and I have to say it fits this beautiful day quite well. As the sun sets on what was a warm, sunny day (rare enough in London to be underlined), those beats really match my feeling of peace and they are a great way to finish this bank holiday weekend.

Get your chill on and head to J&D’s Bandcamp to discover Our Hopes And Dreams or simply click on the link below. Enjoy the journey and spread the word…

Find out more about J&D on Facebook and Twitter

French touch: Râ, Mister Bibal

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First of all, before I can hear some of you get agitated and declare: ‘But… That’s now new, that came out ages ago!’ I would like to quote a Twitter status from producer Zo! which allowed me to see things in a different way. Referring to many people’s desire to always know what’s ‘hot’ or discover brand-new music before anyone else, he stated: ‘When discovering good music… There should be no such thing as a ‘late pass’‘. If you consider things under this light, any music that you discover is new music, as in new to your ears. So… I’ve had quite a lot of music waiting in my inbox, sometimes for many months (as is the case here) and I think it would be a shame not to share it. Of course, many of you probably heard about those projects I will highlight. But for those who didn’t, here is some new music for your ears…

I already introduced Mister Bibal back in August, with his very interesting project Break & Beats Trois. In case you missed it, go back in time and get familiar with all things Mister Bibal. Now, after his Break & Beats series, the talented producer crafted a wonderful EP entitled . As I said earlier, this is is not brand-new, since the project came out in November 2010. But in case you missed it (or slept on it as I did) it will sound like a Christmas present given out of season. I actually love those kind of treats and it’s quite cool to be able to listen to an EP or album after all the ‘hype’ and craziness around the release has died down. You are sure to be listening to the project with partial ears (I doubt ears have a judgement but you get my point). And that is exactly what happened to me today. I decided to take a trip to the bottom of my inbox, to unearth some audio treasures and discover those gems that had patiently been waiting for me all this time. And of course I was not disappointed, or I wouldn’t be typing those words right now. I actually loved the EP so much I have been playing it on repeat for the last 30 minutes or so. Six tracks deep, this lovely project will keep you satisfied but still eager to hear more, which is the mark of quality music in my opinion. I already explained in my first introduction to Mister Bibal that I was not really a fan or connoisseur of electro music, but sometimes I will listen to a track and feel something. That is clearly the case with . While I wouldn’t be able to say who influenced Mister Bibal or how he created the tracks, I can still appreciate the music and travel to new dimensions. There are obviously many different genres and atmospheres on this EP, ranging from electro, to soul and jazz among others, which gives it a very universal touch and makes it easily accessible. I won’t say much more about it, but leave you to (re)discover and enjoy it…

    You can now enter Mister Bibal’s eclectic and welcoming universe by heading to RÂ - EP - Mister Bibal and purchase (it is really affordable and deserves your support!). You can also watch a very interesting promo video, directed by Eliott Brunet below. Enjoy the ride and spread the word!

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        Find out more about Mister Bibal and check out the previous tapes on his website & Facebook

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