Friday, 17 May 2019

Youssou N'Dour ‎– Eyes Open (1992)

Genre: Pop, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Cass.
Label: Columbia, 40 Acres And A Mule MusicWorks, Sony

Tracklist:
01.   New Africa
02.   Live Television
03.   No More
04.   Country Boy
05.   Hope
06.   Africa Remembers
07.   Couple's Choice
08.   Yo Lé Lé (Fulani Groove)
09.   Survie
10.   Am Am
11.   Marie-Madeleine La Saint-Louisienne
12.   Useless Weapons
13.   The Same
14.   Things Unspoken

Credits: Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Thierno Koite Backing Vocals – Ousseynou Ndiaye Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Co-producer – Habib Faye Djembe, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Babacar (Mbaye Dieye) Faye Drums – Fallilou (Gallas) Niang Keyboards – Ibrahima Cissé Keyboards, Co-producer – Jean-Philippe Rykiel Lead Guitar – Mamadou (Jimi) Mbaye Rhythm Guitar – Pape Oumar NGom Talking Drum – Assane Thiam Tenor Saxophone – Issa Cissocko Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Leader, Producer – Youssou N'Dour

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy ‎– Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury (1992)

Style: Breaks, Industrial, Dub, Conscious
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Island Records, 4th & Broadway

Tracklist:
01 . Satanic Reverses
02.   Famous And Dandy (Like Amos 'N' Andy)
03. Television, The Drug Of The Nation
04. Language Of Violence
05.   The Winter Of The Long Hot Summer
06.  Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury
07. Everyday Life Has Become A Health Risk
08.   INS Greencard A-19 191 500
09.  Socio-Genetic Experiment
10.   Music And Politics
11.  Financial Leprosy
12.  California Über Alles
13.   Water Pistol Man

Credits:
Lyrics By – J. Biafra, J. Greenway), M. Franti
Guitar – Charlie Hunter
Other (Voice Of Reason & Conspirator In Treason) – Mat Callahan
Performer – Michael Franti
Performer, Percussion, Steel Drums – Rono Tse
Written-By – Boucher, J. Biafra, J. Greenway, M. Pistel, M. Franti, W. Badarou

IF you’ve any preconceptions about Hip-Hop or Rap, you better leave them at the door with your sets and your chains. If you’re convinced that most Hip–Hop is all about the cliches of “niggaz”, “ho’s”, “blunts”, gang warfare, and aggressive macho posturing bordering on misogyny – think again. 
Disposable Heroes only lasted one album; “Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury” before fracturing apart. Back in 1991, when this was released, rap was seen a threat: some mistook Public Enemy’s realist approach to describing the violence and depravation of urban ghetto life as a blueprint for glamour, misogyny hatred, and selling millions of records. And not all of them weren't reporters or members of PMRC either. Some of them made records. 
This then is a smack in the face of musical and political complacency. It explores issues that very few rappers have dared to touch before or since; like homophobia, bullying, the Gulf War, and the ill's of corporate America. This is a rap album with words that matter, and aren't just cussing and boasting. Hiphoprisy “express more emotions than laughter, anger, and let’s f*ck”. 
Musically its not as limited as some other rap albums acclaimed as 'masterpieces'. The opening “Satanic Reverses” starts with gregorian chanting before jazz trumpets kick in, leading to a lyrical expose on religious intolerance and corruption;“Famous and Dandy (just like Amos N’ Andy)” addresses the then-current obsession with gangsta-rap by comparing it to the Black and White Minstrel shows of the 1930’s, where black people would readily fit into a stereotype just to make a quick buck. 
And it exposes cruelly the shallowness that lies at the heart of so called trends, those that devalue cultural identity by turning it into a saleable stereotype. As Franti raps “Holding our crotch was the flavour of the month / Bitch this, Bitch that was the flavour of the month / Being a Thug was flavour of the month / No to Drugs was the flavour of the month / Kangol was the flavour of the month / Rope Gold was the flavour of the month / Adidas Shoes was the flavour of the month….”.Rap was no longer a way of expressing social ills, but a path to success via cussing and notoriety, and this exposes the brutal inner workings of the rap industry. Franti took the approach of "gold brains, not gold chains". In meantime Wu-Tang Clan and Puff Daddy have merchandising operations that probably sell those chains. And a life in chains is a prison. 
After 10 years, I still don’t bore of this album. Its got soul – not in the crass way that Soul has mutated into R’N’B vocal histrionics – but soul when one exposes their inner self. Its got honesty and raw emotion. Its got anger. Its got songs ; and not just tired cover versions of rock classics. It certainly doesn’t sound like an album that’s ten years old - it remains as lyrically and musically vital now as a decade ago; if not more so, because the same concerns it raised then are in evidence today. It educates, and entertains. It's music to make you think. 
As Franti himself says on this cd: “The bass, the treble, don’t make a rebel ; having your life together does... ” 
Graham Reed / DROWNED IN SOUND

Material ‎– The Third Power (1991)

Style: Reggae, Dub, Ragga HipHop, Funk, Jazzdance
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Axiom, 4th & Broadway

Tracklist:
1.  Reality
2.   Playin' With Fire
3.  Cosmic Slop
4.  E-Pluribus-Unum
5.   Drive-By
6.  Power Of Soul (Black Chant)
7.   Mellow Mood
8.   Glory

Credits:
Producer – Bill Laswell
Alto Saxophone – Maceo Parker
Bass – Robbie Shakespeare
Computer – Nicky Skopelitis
Cornet – Olu Dara
Drums, Programmed By (Drums) – Sly Dunbar
Euphonium – Richard Harper
Flute – Henry Threadgill
Guitar – Bootsy Collins, Gary Shider, Michael Hampton, Nicky Skopelitis
Horn – Joe Daly
Organ – Bernie Worrell
Percussion – Aiyb Dieng
Piano – Bernie Worrell, Herbie Hancock
Synthesizer – Jeff Bova
Tenor Saxophone – Pee Wee Ellis
Trombone – Fred Wesley
Tuba – Marcus Rojas
Whistle – Joel Brandon
Vocals – Bootsy Collins, Gary Shider, Gary Mudbone Cooper, Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, Jenny Peters, Jungle Brothers, Shabba Ranks

Material has never really been a band -- it's basically a constantly shifting constellation of musicians whose center of gravity is producer and bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn. Certain musicians are frequently included (in the old days, Fred Frith and Anton Fier; these days, Nicky Skopelitis and Sly Dunbar), but each album usually features a drastically different lineup from the last, and often a new stylistic approach, as well. The Third Power is Material's foray into reggae/hip-hop fusion. Beinhorn is conspicuously absent on this album (and has remained so since, rendering Material's name basically synonymous with Laswell's), and Laswell abdicates the bass chair to Robbie Shakespeare; all the drums are played by his cohort Sly Dunbar. Sidemen include Bootsy Collins, Olu Dara, Herbie Hancock, and James Brown's old horn section. Vocals are provided by members of the Jungle Brothers, the Last Poets, Shabba Ranks and others. That kind of diversity would lead to anarchy on any other record, but Laswell has turned chaos into revelation for years. Sly & Robbie keep everything pumping nicely, the rappers keep it interesting, and Nicky Skopelitis' off-kilter guitar keeps reminding you that this really is a Material album. The mood is surprisingly constant, maybe a little too much so; Shabba's ragamuffin chanting on "Reality" isn't treated much differently from the Bob Marley cover that closes the album. But it's a nice mood. Pity the whole thing clocks in at just over half-an-hour. 
Rick Anderson / AllMusic

A Tribe Called Quest ‎– The Low End Theory (1991)

Style: Conscious, Jazzy Hip-Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Jive

Tracklist:
01.   Excursions
02.   Buggin' Out
03.   Rap Promoter
04.   Butter
05.   Verses From The Abstract
06.   Show Business
07.   Vibes And Stuff
08.   The Infamous Date Rape
09.   Check The Rhime
10.   Everything Is Fair
11.   Jazz (We've Got)
12.   Skypager
13.   What?
14.   Scenario

Credits:
Recorded By, Mixed By – A Tribe Called Quest, Bob Power
Written-By – A. Muhammad, J. Davis, M. Taylor
Producer – A Tribe Called Quest

If A Tribe Called Quest had stopped with their first album, People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, they’d still be regarded as a seminal hip hop act. For one summer in 1990, alongside the strains of Madchester, the streets resounded to the sound of “Can I Kick It?” and “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo”. The laid back style of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg over the jazz sampleology of Ali Shaheed Muhammad, along with the daisy age raps of De La Soul, almost single-handedly defined the alternative rap scene, where intelligence and musical nouse replaced guns, hos and bragging. So when they followed it up with as close to a perfect album, The Low End Theory, their place in history was assured. 
Low End… pushed the jazz connection even further with a sparse but not quite minimal selection of grooves built around some exquisitely chosen upright bass samples, and in the case of “Verses From The Abstract” actually utilising the real-time skills of legend Ron Carter. Remember that this was in direct contrast to the West Coast G Funk about to explode onto the scene. Like its predecessor it combined humour with insight to show the world that ‘rap’ needn’t be equated with the worst aspects of the American dream. Q-Tip and Phife’s posse flows were, by this point, honed to perfection, with most tracks seeing them bounce off each other like some funked-up game of table tennis. 
Amidst the self-deprecation there was some serious stuff as well with issues of misogyny (“The Infamous Date Rape” and “Butter”) and rap’s descent into brutalism (“Rap Promoter”, “Show Business”) being addressed. But overall this is another feel-good mix of smart grooves and the wittiest rhymes this side of Noel Coward. It also introduced the world to the bizarre mind of Buster Rhymes (“Scenario”). 
Acclaimed as one of the best 100 albums of all time by Rolling Stone, The Low End Theory remains one of hip hop’s defining moments and deserves to be in everyone’s record collection. Probably now more than ever… 
Chris Jones / BBC Review