The third release from heavy Latin funk outfit, Brownout dropped a couple of weeks ago and has since filled a welcomed space in my Latin funk collection. Hailing from Austin, Texas, and co-lead by the ubiquitous Adrian Quesada (Groupo Fantasma, Ocote Soul Sounds), Brownout’s members have toured with and played for Prince (under Groupo Fantasma), so needless to say, they have mad chops in the instrumentation department.

Complete with fuzzy guitars, blaring horns, banging keys, solid percussion, and breaks galore, Aguilas and Cobras combines the best of Latino funk, rock, psychedelia, and soul, while nodding frequently to the roots of African rhythms. Sonically, the recording sounds like a long lost reel of Santana meets Chakachas, meets The Meters, circa 1972-1976, yielding a soundtrack feel throughout the listen. What I dig most about this album is that it would have sounded just as good if it were released in the 70’s, when most of the group members were a mere glimmer in their parent’s eyes.

In The Booth
Con el CueteThe hypnotic mid-tempo rhythm and keyboard work makes this a nice one to get the night started.

Tell Her She’s Lovely – Refreshing early set track, nice title and lyrics. Brother Carlos Santana would be proud of this one.

Olvidalo – Opening breakbeat, acoustic guitar rhythm, and call and response makes this a favorite. Definitely for the b-boys and girls.

S.F.L.A. Con el Cuete Reprise – I can already hear cats chopping this one up on the MPs. This one sounds like the drive home at 5:30 am just before sunrise.
Pick it up here.

Junior Star gives Aguilas and Cobras 5.5 out of 7 head nods

Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.
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Upon entering the venue, Jay Electronica’s instant underground classic, Dimethyltryptamine ushered us into the historic church turned venue to the stars. My wife and I were kind of surprised that it wasn’t packed out, but as Jay Electronica’s set progressed, the numbers steadily increased, while beats laced with Jay’s unrelentless cerebral flow of thoughts, dreams, and realities filled the capacity of the space. Effortlessly spitting verses from the Style Wars EP that made him an internet sensation in what seemed a mere matter of months, I’m sure a portion of his content flew over a lot of the audience’s heads, but as he stated “I’m glad you all aren’t jumping around (and wilding out) cuz that tells me that y’all are listening. I appreciate you listening!” Balancing humor and braggadocio, Jay kept the crowd open with jokes and a challenge of battling ANY emcee in the game, “Well except for Mos” he says lol..Another mentionable moment was his prologue to A Prayer For Michael Vick and T.I., where he acknowledged and compared the two’s mistakes versus the vicious cycle of wrongdoings of ”the powers that be”.

At the end of his set, he closed with a very well received prayer for peace and upliftment, a much needed gesture for this generation of hip hop culture. When was the last time you went to a show and was asked to hold hands with a stranger standing/sitting next to you? Well this was in a church, but you get what I mean..

The Mighty Mos Def’s set began a little late, yet right on time. Opening it up with the hypnotic drums, bass and keys of Fela’s Fear Not Of Man (bearing the same beat and title of his track on the Black On Both Sides LP), Mos enthusiastically rocked his translucent orange custom drum set while dropping his opening lyrics to the track. He then cheerfully greeted the crowd, “You could have been anywhere in the world, but you chose to be here with us tonight. Thank you and thank you again.” Remainder of this review here

Nickodemus, the Brooklyn based producer and deejay/creator of one of the longest running outdoor dance parties in New York, Turntables on The Hudson, drops a nice one on us for summer 2009. Sun People (ESL Music), is Nickodemus‘ second full length effort, featuring a bouquet of characters representing all parts of the globe. Imagine traveling to Puerto Rico, Columbia, New York, Guinea, UK, (and a few other spots), and the sun is shining upon arrival of each destination, with people dancing in the streets..

The production is very tight, as most dance music is in general, but the live instrumentation and vocalists seem to help loosen things up, adding a bit more swing to the rhythms once all of the pieces are fit into the puzzle. Nickodemus‘ way of combining urban beats and multicultural sounds, makes him (and world music) indefinitely more “accessible” to the average dance clubber, attractive to names like Apple in the advertisement world (see Mi Swing es Tropical), as well as creating an interesting listen for people who enjoy global music.
Release date is set for June 16, so mark your calendar and pick it up at one up at your favorite place to buy music.

In The Booth
Sun People (Intro) (feat. Ismael Kouyate) – Nice traditional instrumental with keyboard drops throughout. Ismael Kouyate on vocals but only about a minute and a half in length. I’m sure there will be a full version coming soon.

La Lluvia (feat. Richard Shepherd, produced with Quantic) – Co-produced by Quantic, so you know its got that deep Latin flavor. On point vocals and horns makes this a top contender for favorite track..

weRISEweFALLweRISE – Starts out as an experimental hip hop type of track where the drums and multilayered woodwinds take the stage, but just when you thought it was over, the track morphs into a house tune..much props on the transition here.

Junior Star gives Sun People a 5.75 out of 7 head nods.

Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

I was first introduced to Quetzal Guerrero’s music by way of Osunlade’s Ibara: River Crossing album on the highly trusted Yoruba Records label. His track Raimunda (which also appears on the new album) was actually one of my favorites on Ibara, so I was excited to see him signed to a full Yoruba label release (4th release overall) and just as excited to hear his musical offering.

An extremely talented violinist, guitarist, and vocalist, Quetzal is one of those artists to keep an eye on in the future. Embracing his rich heritage of Native American, Mexican and Brazillian lineages, he respectively holds it down in the Latin/Soul/House genres, adding his own flair to the flamboyance these musical styles encompass. The sounds of samba, batucada, hip hop, acoustic, and Yoruba praises are also represented in this eclectic release.

The strengths of this album (in my opinion) lie in the violin/guitar solos, percussion, and language, each contributing its own rhythm and color. These hues then meld as a whole, much like that vibrantly painted mural you pass by while driving, admiring it more and more with each passing. This album is for those who allow music (and other artistic endeavors) to grow on them much like this one has/is doing on me.

My top picks:

Now – Bouncey drums, floating guitars and violin – “Enjoy your life as it is Now”. Beautifully said.
Tudo de Voce – Niiice samba – grab your Caipirinha de Tangerina , your hammock and chiiiilll out..
Rumba a Yemoja – Yoruba Records soulful Afro-House at its best. Voted most likely to appear in a Junior Star deejay set.
Raimunda – Fav track. If you don’t dance to this then something is definitely wrong.

Pick this one up from the links through his myspace page.
Junior Star gives Now by Quetzal Guerrero a 6 out of 7 head nods
*Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

A lot of you all know that the west coast is killing it right now when it comes to that sound from L.A. that you can’t quite describe, but you can pretty much bet its going to be on point. Well, just in case you didn’t know, then check for Flying Lotus, Samiyam, Nobody, Gaslamp Killer, Daedelus, (to name a few) and the man of the hour, Ras G, all very well known for their appearances at the weekly, no holds barred, beat showcase, Low End Theory in Los Angeles. After a handful of EPs and a recently dropped joint, Ghetto Sci-Fi (Poobah Records), we get yet another full release: Brotha From Anotha Planet on Flylo’s Brainfeeder imprint.

Ras G’s music cannot be easily described..you would most likely need an extraterrestrial being to translate some of the sounds he manages to construct/deconstruct..but definitely in a good way. At first listen you begin to hear influences of the unpredictable free jazz styles (though not a jazz album) of Sun Ra, Coltrane, and Horace Tapscott, the heavy, in the red, Dub bass drops of King Tubby, and undoubtedly the dustiest, dirtiest drums of hip hop peers J Dilla, and label mate Flying Lotus. Add randomly scattered static, scratches, vocal samples from various films and records, crazy left and right pans (especially if you listen through headphones) and you are ready for some serious space traveling.

Along with keeping an original and progressive presence as a pioneer in the Los Angeles music scene and worldwide, Ras is genuinely a cool cat, giving even more reason to support his music. On that note, be sure to check for previous releases on his Myspace page and pick them up.

What I dig most about the album is how he creates abstract and astral landscapes that tie the tracks together, some even without drums, making it much more than a beat tape, as many hip hop instrumental albums have been categorized. Keep your mind open and you will indeed appreciate this cat’s contributions to hip hop music.

My Picks
Astrohood – Sun Ra Arkestra intro, bouncy drums, trademark air horn, a “signature” track (imop).
Come Down (2 Earth) – One of the more straight forward tracks on the album, spacey head nod joint, with a couple of throwback samples.
Alkebulan – Hands down my favorite joint. I’m sure the bboys are tearing this one up..and be SURE to check for this video on his myspace page, definitely one of the dopest.

Junior Star gives Brotha From Anotha Planet a 6 out of 7 head nods.

Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.

7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

Its almost always a good thing when you get two masters of their crafts together to put together an album (or nearly any artistic endeavor). Its certainly a good thing with legendary deejays and tastemakers, Rich Medina and Bobbito Garcia dropping their 2 CD compilation, The Connection Volume One – Modern Explorations in Afro-Beat and Afro-Latin on R2 Records. Street release date is set for April 14.

For those who don’t know these cats be sure to look them up..From their legendary residencies and parties (Jump-N-Funk, Wonder-full, Happy Feet, Vinyl Is Forever, and others), to producing, writing books, charity work, and well, I could spend this whole piece writing on all of the things that these guys have done over the years, so be sure to check out the links above and check for links on those pages as well.

An inspired competition exists between them to outdo the other by introducing underexposed tunes. The Connection allows for others to share that joy that goes on in their DJ booth , as quoted from their press sheet, this best describes the tone of this compilation. A dual disc with Medina fully representing the Afro-Beats on disc one, and Kool Bob Love digging up the Afro-Latin grooves on disc two, this joint is everything from lounge to straight up raw funk and dancefloor smashers all rolled into one..an exceptional balance between classic and vintage rhythms and Afro-futuristic production.

When I read the tracklisting, being a selector, I was happy to see that I was familiar with some of the tracks and artists, but after hearing them all mashed together one after the other, they all sounded individually and collectively as fresh as ever, as if I was right there at one of their sets. Best believe you’ll hear some of them when I’m spinning..

Standout tracks for me on disc one are: Raw Artistic Soul’s Oya O featuring Nigerian progressive house queen, Wunmi, The river-like flow of Cameroon’s Franck Biyong’s We Shall Overcome, and the trance-like saxophones and chants of Do Lelezi Ekassa 22 from Nigerian legend, Victor Uwaifo. Favs on disc two include, the organic polyrhythmic percussion of Rumba Cultura by Totin, The UK’s Reel People with the Michael Jackson (Off The Wall era) vibe of Second Guess (Da Lata Remix), and Salsa Scratch by none other than ex-X-Ecutioner Rob Swift featuring the legendary Bob James and D-Styles (Beat Junkies,Low End Theory).

The Connection Volume 1 is a sophisticated and colorful collection of tracks from two well trusted deejays, that I highly recommend to the Bamalovesoul massive especially if you dig Afro-Beat and Afro-Latin music. Pick this one up directly from the R2 Records label (UK), Itunes, Amazon, etc. Links to purchase the album in the U.S. will be posted here soon.

Junior Star gives The Connection Volume 1 – 6.5 out of 7 head nods.

* Head Nod Scale

1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.

2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.

3=Well, there was the single.

4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.

5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.

6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.

7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.




FOR MORE INFO, SOUNDCLIPS & PODCAST CHECK: www.r2records.co.uk/theconnection

and..if you’re in London be sure to catch their album launch boat party on Sunday April 12!

(continued from pt.1)
After the tone was set, a flurry of beats, breaks, and samples followed, provided by DJ Preservation with his brother/deejay Abdul Rahman (aka Gold Medal Man) mostly holding down the instrumentals. The chemistry between Mos and his two deejays gave the performance a well rehearsed, but fresh feel to it, with the dopest interludes: a call and response/improvisational drum vs. deejay set, classic soul, blues, and a reggae set that transformed the dancefloor into an ocean of bodies swaying back and forth..all interspersed between each classic track after the next. Highlight tracks for me were The Auditorium and Ghetto Rock where I was literally on the verge of jumping on someone’s back – my apologies again to the folks whose feet I stepped on lol. Honorable mentions: Quiet Dog, Umi Says, Miss Fat Booty, and of course Casa Bey.

Another noteworthy part of the show was Mos’ paying homage to some of our ancestors/pioneers in music, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Fela Kuti, to name a few. Showmanship, respect for the fans, and an overall love for the music was written all over his face throughout his entire set.

After the show Jay came and chatted with the Birmingham crew and even shared a photo of his and Erykah Badu’s beautiful baby daughter. You could see this brother’s face light up like the proud father that he is.
Big up to Sharrif for introducing us to Mos, who was cool enough to meet with us after the amount of energy he had already given us in his performance. What was even cooler was that he had his family on board with him for the tour: Moms, Dad, brother, and relatives all in tow.

Overall, the show was well worth the price, time, and travel to Atlanta. It’s always refreshing to see (in person) that real hip hop is pushing forward on a local, national and international level.

Big up to the Malcolm’s Reading Room crew and the rest of the Birmingham crew who came out to the show!

Photo Courtesy of Simone Snelling