Kentucky rappers Nappy Roots will release their new album, The 40 Akerz Project, on March 3rd. Their 2002 song “Po’ Folks” (feat. Anthony Hamilton) connected with this lifelong poor, Appalachian girl in a way that not many popular songs do. Even over a decade later, I still find myself singing the song’s resigned lyrical refrain “all my life been po’ but it really don’t matter no mo’” when facing adversity (such as last year’s WV water crisis.) That, in my opinion, is the mark of a great song — that feeling of recognition.
My excitement over Nappy Roots’ album news quickly turned to trepidation, though, when I saw their new song title “Party for the Ages.” Had my beloved Nappy Roots abandoned their own authentic, poetic, real life rap style in favor of the more popular, party lifestyle brand of rap? Thankfully the answer is a resounding no.
The song’s arrangement and chorus do have a more modern, ambient sound, but the verses show Nappy Roots are still rapping from their hearts.
Two of my fave things: classical music and one hit wonders! Rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot surprised the classical crowd at a recent Seattle Symphony performance by joining the orchestra for a lively, string-accented version of his hit “Baby Got Back” and bringing some of the female audience members on stage to dance….
Remember Neneh Cherry? You know, the Swedish singer-rapper best known for the rap-dance hit “Buffalo Stance,” “Buddy X,” “Woman” and the Youssou N’Dour duet “7 Seconds.” Neneh is back, this time collaborating with Norwegian-Swedish jazz trio, The Thing. Their debut album, The Cherry Thing, will be released on June 19th and they’re sharing their trippy, avant-jazz cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” via the SoundCloud widget below. The album will also include covers of songs originally recorded by The Stooges, Martina Topley-Bird and Neneh’s father, Don Cherry.
Troubadour was the 2009 sophomore release by Somali-Canadian rapper/singer-songwriter and poet K’NAAN. I was first introduced to K’NAAN’s music last year when a friend played his beautiful song “Wavin’ Flag” for me. A few weeks later, I saw K’NAAN’s jubilant and superbly entertaining performance on Austin City Limits and I was hooked.
K’NAAN is often compared to Bob Marley, but he names modern rapper Nas as his biggest influence. K’NAAN – whose name means “traveller” in the Somali language – fled Mogadishu with his mother when he was just fourteen years old. He found solace in American rap music while living in New York, and eventually began his own musical career in the Canadian hip-hop scene after settling in Toronto.
K’NAAN’s lyrical content is often overtly political, addressing issues in his homeland of Somalia. Many of the songs on Troubadour mix reggae melodies with light hip-hop beats and K’NAAN’s spoken word poetry. Unfortunately, with the exception of “Wavin’ Flag,” the glossy rap-centric production of the album diminishes the joyous, organic quality of K’NAAN’s live performances.
I was not granted permission to post an mp3 from the album, but I can share this “Celebration Mix” from Coca-Cola’s World Cup campaign. I don’t normally bother posting remixes, but I’ll make an exception since this one was reworked by K’NAAN himself and is actually good…
K’NAAN – Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix) (mp3 expired) *
*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep