If you live in Los Angeles, then you know how rough of a week it has been. On behalf of everyone at KCRW, we are hoping you are safe and staying as healthy as possible. In that spirit, there are a few new excellent releases to help get you through.
Also, I’ll be hosting MBE for the month of November starting on Monday. Catch you soon!
Michael Kiwanuka – “Hero”
Avoiding the sophomore curse does little to describe the success of Michael Kiwanuka's breakout album Love & Hate. What many don't know is that the award winning 2016 release is actually his third album. Yeah, third.
An album titled Night Songs was originally slated to be the follow up to his debut and celebrated album Home Again. The time in-between the recording of the two albums was filled with such crippling self-doubt that Kiwanuka entertained quitting music altogether. During this period, which he describes as feeling "lost", he sought to better understand his British-African identity. So when record executives asked him to choose an alter ego, an "easier" stage name (effectively abolishing his Ugandan heritage), the declination of self-confidence only accelerated. Eventually, the decision was made to shelve Night Songs.
Upon deep introspection and asking "Are you really giving up? Are you really going to stop right now?" (which by the way are lyrics from "Living in Denial" off the new album), Kiwanuka joined forces with Danger Mouse and Inflo. Both of whom inspired a new sense of self and creativity, celebrating his cultural heritage rather than attempting to eradicate it.
Kiwanuka has proudly embraced his African heritage and his renewed self-confidence is on full display throughout the album. The lyrics from the first single "Hero" says it all, as he defiantly declares, "I won't change my name, no matter what they call me." KIWANUKA is out today and check out the video for the aforementioned "Hero."
Sudan Archives - "Confessions"
Brittney Parks, better known as Sudan Archives, is a self-taught violin virtuoso who has absolutely charmed us since she burst onto the scene a couple years ago. Her avant-garde compositions with Afro-futurist sensibilities defy genre and challenge our preconceived notions of classical instruments. Imagine if FKA Twigs and Francis Bebey made an album? It would sound like Athena, Parks' highly anticipated debut full-length.
Check it out for yourself with a look at the visuals for "Confessions" from Athena, which is out today.
Acid Arab - "Malek Ya Zahri” (feat. Cheikha Hadjla)
Acid Arab is a Parisian DJ duo comprised of Guido Minisky & Hervé Carvalho. They are veterans of the world-renowned French club and dance scene. In fact, both are residents of the legendary Parisian club Chez Moune. However, after a trip to Tunisia several years ago, the two became obsessed with music from the Middle East. Ever since, they have made it their mission to blend Eastern & North African (Algeria, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Mumbai, etc) music with their club/dance sensibilities to craft something altogether new. Now, you might be thinking, we've heard this before with the likes of Diplo, Four Tet, Timbaland and others. Though, that's true in theory, the difference is Minisky & Carvalho actually infuse these Arabic influences deep into the fabric of their sound. Thus, transforming the foundation of the music itself. Rather than just taking a cool sample and putting it over a beat, they have created a new style of fusion. Or as they put it:
We are fascinated by eastern music and it's codes, such as complex rhythmic structures (binary and ternary superimposing upon each other), which drive dancers to trance just like acid house does. We'd like to take these codes and use analog techno...to create something new
Hence their name, Acid Arab. Check out the visuals for one of my favorite songs from the album "Malek Ya Zahri (feat. Cheikha Hadjla)" from the album Jdid, which is out now.