Mixcloud, in association with Channel 4, is taking submissions for soundtrack music to be used in vignettes for a selection of prominent athletes competing in this summer’s World Athletics Championships in South Korea. You can listen to my Afro Beat influenced 8 track playlist for British Nigerian triple jumper Phillips Idowu by clicking here. Please support and share!
With Phillips Idowu describing his nationality as British Nigerian, I was excited at the prospect of pulling together some of the great contemporary music influenced by the legacy of one of Nigeria’s greatest musical exports, Fela Kuti, from Hip Hop to Broken Beats and beyond. My selections are predominantly (but not exclusively) by British artists and in all cases take some form of inspiration from Fela’s musical stylings or the Afro Beat phenomenon he created. Included are two of my own tracks taken from a forthcoming 7 inch single for the Breakin Bread label. Here’s some info on the tracks I used and reasons for my selections:
Richy Pitch feat Samini and DJ Black – We’re Taking Over (BBE)
I’ve known London based producer and DJ Richy Pitch for a good many years now and in the time I’ve known him he’s put out some genuinely amazing and varied music. Richy is also a label mate of mine at BBE. This track is an unreleased version of one of the tracks taken from his ‘Ya Fre Mi Richy Pitch’ album for the BBE label, an ambitious LP which saw Richy collaborate with a host of African vocalists to produce a pretty effortless blend of high life, afro beat, hip hop and UK bass sounds. Although predominantly featuring Ghanian artists, the Afro Beat influence is evident. I chose this track partly for its neat ‘skipping through the radio dial’ intro but also because of the initial burst of energy it provides.
Ty feat Tony Allen – The Willing (Big Dada)
London based vocalist Ty is also someone who I’ve known for some years. And again he is also a label mate at BBE (although this track is taken from his ‘Upwards’ album for Big Dada from a few years back). It’s no throw away comment to say that I have liked literally every record he’s released. Ty is a true artist – versatile and good humoured with a tireless enthusiasm for his craft. This track features Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, long time rhythm provider for Fela Kuti. I chose this track in part for the atmospheric string section at the end which would be well suited to TV use, but also for the motivational lines in the opening section. (The reference in the hook to a gold chain is also arguably relevant to a potential gold medalist but I won’t pretend that wasn’t an afterthought.)
J Period & K Naan – Let’s Start (Fela Kuti Tribute)
I don’t have any personal connection here other than that I’m a big fan of J Period’s mixtape work from the last couple of years. This track is taken from J Period’s self released ‘Messengers’ series which paid tribute to a number of aritsts who have had a great impact on modern music including in the case of this track Fela Kuti.
Chris Read – Sons D’Afrique
This is one of my own tracks, due for release on a 7 inch single for the Breakin’ Bread label later this year. The thing I like most about this track is that the sample material from which it is made comes from such a wide variety of sources: traditional African drumming records, American funk and soul cuts, 80s hip hop and more. Yet, when compiled, they make a record that owes as much to the Fela’s Afro Beat sound as they do to modern dance music. It’s a dancefloor track that has a certain energy that’s easily associated with Athletics.
Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – Do Anything, Go Anywhere (Instrumental)
Public Opinion are a band from Melbourne Australia who I first came across whilst on tour there a little over a year ago and I spent some time doing radio with their DJ, ‘Manchild’. They fuse quite traditional Afro Beat instrumentation with hip hop vocals to good effect. I chose this track to even out the balance between vocal and instrumentals included in my selections, although the title also has a certain relevance to the mental drive needed to succeed in Athletics.
Overproof Soundsystem – Dub Africa
Overproof soundsystem’s percussionist ‘Magoo’ Robertson is a close friend. Mark and I were once in a band together and played together for many years. Although Overproof are predominantly a Reggae / Dub act, this track fuses the Dub sound with an unmistakable Afro Beat flavour forming a great instrumental track which lends itself well TV use.
Chris Read – Dub Afrique
Another of my own tracks, in this case the B-side of ‘Sons D’Afrique’ featured above. Although this is the most uptempo of the selections, its laid back feel makes it well suited to use as bed track for TV use whilst maintaining an uptempo or upbeat feel.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Water No Get Enemy
It didn’t really seem right to include a diverse selection of tracks that draw on Fela’s influence without including at least one track by the man himself. This is included quite simply because, suitable or not for this brief, it’s a great record!
I hope you enjoy – please support.
p.s Any Channel 4 people reading this can view my biography here!