Music

Music in Exile

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For anyone who has been lucky enough to see Songhoy Blues live, it seemed impossible that the band had no record deal — their sound is so accomplished. For sure, they stand on the shoulders of giants. It sent a shiver down the spine when at their recent Hackney show lead singer Aliou Toure introduced one song saying, “This is for our father…Ali Farka Toure.”

Black Messiah/The London Sessions

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I’ve been a fan of Mary J Blige, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, ever since What’s The 411? came out in 1992 and so was eagerly awaiting her latest album, The London Sessions. It promised something a little bit different from the Grammy Award winning singer. Then D’Angelo dropped his new album Black Messiah with virtually no warning. I’ve waited 14 years for this to come out, ever since his acclaimed 2000 album, Voodoo. Sorry, Mary!

Run the Jewels 2

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Run the Jewels 2 is not the sort of album you often find reviewed in these pages.

It is one of the most highly anticipated hip hop albums of the year and on the whole it does not disappoint. But a word of warning is necessary.

It is definitely not for the faint hearted, both in its production and its lyrical content. In terms of the production it is layered, very detailed, aggressive and eerie. Much the same can be said of its lyrical content.

Midtown 120 Blues

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DJ Sprinkles, Re-issue out now

Terre Thaemlitz goes by the name DJ Sprinkles, the name she uses on the album. She is a multimedia producer who owns her own record label, she writes journals and books, she talks about her politics, being gay, queerness, transgenderism, pan-sexuality (she also goes by he sometimes) and considers herself to be a left wing activist.

Her politics are central to her music. People will listen to this album and understand the music in various ways, but this only adds to the enjoyment.

A History of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum & Bass 1991-97

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Suburban Base Records, box set out now on CD or download

The title of this excellent release is somewhat overstated. Suburban Base was arguably the most prolific and iconic label of hardcore and jungle music (though less so drum & bass).

There are many genre classics on this collection, but it would be impossible on three CDs to come even close to capturing hardcore and jungle's wonderfully chaotic, punk-like DIY approach.

When will we be paid for the work we've done?

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Band leader Dion Palumbo says musicians are exploited and kept down by capitalism and the celebrity system.

I have been a professional musician for 20 years, running bands in Perth, Sidney, Liverpool, Manchester and London. The "inner city scene" is basically the same everywhere in the UK. Musicians on the "original showcase circuit" don't get paid. The carrot is "exposure" as sold by "promoters".

Music review

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Free Angela (Larry Saunders); The World Needs Changing (Ace Records); Liberation Music (Flying Dutchman Records)


At the end of 2013, Free Angela was reissued and two other compilations were released, all attempting to reflect the music of Black America in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Angela Davis was one of the best-known Communist Party activists in 1960s and 70s America. The then-governor of California, Ronald Reagan, tried to have her banned from teaching at any California university.

30 Years by The Pogues

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Out now, £44.99

One of the great voices from Thatcher's Britain is back to remind us even if we are in the gutter, some of us are looking at the stars. The Pogues have produced a commemorative box set to celebrate 30 years since the release of their first album. Many people will only know the band from their seasonal epic "Fairytale of New York" so now you can buy all their albums in one fell swoop.

Africa 13: taster with a difference

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Rough Trade Shops Africa 13, out now on CD and mp3

Rough Trade Shops has released the perfect stocking-filler for newcomers to music from Africa with its Africa 13.

Seasoned fans will be familiar with some of the choices originally released in the UK on labels such as Crammed Discs, Awesome Tapes From Africa and Soundway.

Highlights include the hypnotic polyrhythms of Congo's Konono No. 1, the minimalist electro groove of the Owiny Sigoma Band and Staff Benda Bilili's dance-floor filler Osali Mabe.

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