Monthly Archives: June 2008

Music

Budos Band Make Funky Afro-Soul

Last night was the final evening of Victoria’s annual JazzFest.  As a way of thanking its volunteers, the Jazz Society allowed anyone with a volunteer badge into the festival’s final show, which featured a group I had never heard of before – Staten Island’s Budos Band.

Thanks to the magic of Google, I quickly learned what Budos Band is all about.  Signed to Daptone Records – home of Sharone Jones & The Dap-Kings – the band describes their sound as “Afro Soul,” a mix of Ethiopian music, soul, and “a little bit of sweet 60’s stuff.”  Although I couldn’t detect any Ethiopian influence from the tracks on their Myspace (although, to be honest, besides Ethiopiques I’m a complete novice when it comes to Ethiopian music), I was impressed by their ability to channel the deep, classic vibes of early ’70s pre-disco funk.

And, if you’re a Wale fan, you’ll be happy to know that the band played on his Mixtape About Nothing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to their show.  I’m sure it was damn good though.  For more proof, check out two tracks from their 2007 album II.

Budos Band – Chicago Falcon (II, 2007)

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Budos Band – Budos Rising (II, 2007)

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Music MySpace Monday

MySpace Monday: El Chavo

El Chavo is a Spanish musician who focuses on hip hop and funk. As far as I can tell he’s a producer, but he makes some pretty dope beats.  Many are funk-focused, but a few begin to go down the road of chiller hip hop.

He’s on the Jakarta Records label, which only really seems to be a MySpace phenomena, but worth checking out since they host some pretty amazing artists.  They’re based in Germany and the biggest artist on their roster is probably Looptroop, if you’ve heard of them.

Just to give you the flavour, here’s Esperando, feat. Strand and Source Spoken.

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Awareness

Why Bill Gates retiring is good for the rest of the world

I know it sounds like a weird statement to make, but it’s true.  Bill Gates retired from Microsoft recently and is moving over to work full-time at his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  They’re one of the largest charitable foundations in the world (if not the biggest) and have done some pretty unbelievable work to date.

Everyone and their mother seems to be vying to support Gates and the foundation, and they’ve garnered some insanely high profile supporters.  The best known is Warren Buffet.  The Oracle of Omaha decided a couple of years ago to give nearly $33 billion of his own money to the foundation.  That’s pretty much his whole fortune, and he did so because he truly seems to believe in the foundation.  The best part about this is that the terms of the donation state that the money donated must be spent in that same year.  So that works out to something like $1.5 billion a year, according to CNN.

The biggest reason why people seem drawn to this foundation is that they are as careful running the foundation as they would be a business.  Not that they are looking for profit, but they are absolutely vicious when it comes to efficiency.  There’s no chance of finding the same, bloated, NGO attitude that plagues some of the bigger non-profits.  And as far as the programs that the Gates’ foundation supports, aside from a few huge contributions, much of the money finds its way to very small programs.

Gizmodo, a site not normally known for social commentary, actually has a pretty good take on just why the foundation kickas ass.

If you’re looking at how to help, you could always give directly to the foundation.  Or, if you’re loaded, just do your best to bid up the share price of Berkshire Hathaway stock.  That’s how Buffet is donating his earnings, so the higher the share price, the larger the gift.

Music

Jay-Z at Glastonbury

We’ve previously reported on Jay-Z headlining the Glastonbury festival, and just how annoyed that made Noel Gallagher.

Now that the festival is upon us, you can see Jay-Z hitting back in one of the best ways possible.

I give you the Jay-Z live cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”.

Music

Kanye sucks at life

I know, it’s a bold statement…

Until you read this.

The peeps at the Bonaroo festival were VERY unimpressed with Kanye’s performance.  He came on late, gave a half-assed show, and was, well, Kanye.

And he wasn’t just late, he was 2 hours late.  Awful.  Especially because his original start time was already around 3 am.

So people complained about it,  and I was shocked to see how furious he was.  He’s a diva.  The male Mariah Carey.  And yet he was mad that people could accuse him of giving a weak show.  We’ve all heard talk of Kanye thinks he is the G.O.A.T, so it’s no real surprise that he gets mad when hated on.

He claims he gives it his all.  He claims he tries so hard.  He blames it on the show organizers and everyone else he can.  He even ranted for several pages about just how hard he tries for every show.  I give him enough respect that I believe him when he says he tries during every show, but I don’t buy the whole “i need to ice my knees every time” bullshit.  I think that’s farcical. (Click the link above and read his rant, you’ll understand what I mean).  No one intends to go out there and give an awful performance, What’s most upsetting to me is how he went about blaming just about everyone else, the organizers, Pearl Jam.

Bring on someone more respectable, someone who cares about the fans enough to let them know what’s going on.

[Source: Pitchfork]

Music

Free Sigur Ros/Bjork concert today (watch it online)

For those of you interested, Björk and Sigur Rós are putting on a free concert in Iceland today to try and protest the growth of the aluminum smelting industry, or at leas the “destruction” of Iceland’s environment.

The Nattura concert would be tough to get to, but since it’d be a free show anyways, National Geographic Music has offered to webcast it live from 3pm – 8 pm EST.

Just click here to watch at the appropriate time.

[Source: National Geographic]

Music

Seun Kuti Continues The Tradition

Tonight Seun Kuti, son of legendary Afro-beat pioneer Fela Kuti, is performing in Victoria, and yours truly has tickets.  I’m pumped, because if Seun is even half as funky as his father, in a few hours I’ll be getting my dance on fo sho.  He’s performing with Fela’s band as well, so it promises to be an evening of musical goodness.

In light of the occasion, I’ve decided to post Fela Kuti’s 1975 record Expensive Shit for your listening pleasure.  An explosive mix of African rhythms and American jazz-funk, Expensive Shit is named after an incident in which Nigerian police – perhaps tired of his political activism – tried to frame Kuti by placing a joint on him.  According to Wikipedia, he found out and ate the joint, “which prompted the police to bring him into custody … to wait for him to produce the excrement. According to legend he … use[d] another inmates’ feces and was eventually released.”

Check out the eponymous first track below:

Fela Kuti – Expensive Shit (Expensive Shit, 1975)

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Cool

Mogadishu Madness

This is just impossible to believe.  In a video shockingly reminiscent of the Vice Guide to Travel, two

Current.com‘s Kaj Larsen and Christof Putzel venture into Mogadishu back in 2006, just as the Islamic Courts Union was taking power.  They actually managed to walk around and talk to a surprising amount of locals, an astonishing feat and they made a pretty intense video piece about it.  Watch it below.

Music

Wale’s video from “The Mixtape about Nothing”

Wale is an artist who we’ve covered many times before,

The Mixtape About Nothing is a pretty dope concept for an album.  As we’ve noted, it’s a hip hop mixtape inspired by Seinfeld.  Tons of little samples taken from the show, along with some solid rhyming.

The first video is out, called “My Integrity”.

Awareness

7 Average Indians

We’re all so used to hearing about how India has benefited from outsourcing and technology.  That India’s middle class is booming and pretty much owes its thanks to globalization.  But it’s not good for everyone.

It’s estimated that about 800 million Indians live on less than $2 a day, and really don’t benefit much from the surge in call centers.  The burgeoning middle class, while successful, does not take its members from across the spectrum of castes and creeds.

This Financial Times article goes beyond and shows the life of seven average Indians from different castes and classes.  You have a successful member of the middle class, a farmer, a shack-dweller, a financial analyst from a mid-level caste, and a few others.

Read the rest of the article here.  It’s worth it.

[Source: Metafilter, Financial Times]