Africa In Your Earbuds

AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #14: RICH MEDINA FOR WORLD WATER DAY

Rich Medina introduced an American generation to afrobeat. For a special edition the veteran selector opted for a strictly vinyl offering.


Rich Medina introduced an American generation to afrobeat. While holding down the decks alongside Cosmo Baker in Philly and hosting downtown NYC parties like Fun, Lil' Ricky's Rib Shack at APT and the ongoing Jump N Funk, Rich always featured cuts from Nigeria's horn-flanked percussive genre — in particular works by afrobeat godfather and pioneer Fela Kuti.

For this special edition Africa In Your Earbuds #14 the veteran selector opted for a strictly vinyl offering. He told us. "I had no desire to play digital files on this mix. I felt obligated to approach it from a fundamentals standpoint, starting with using real records. Nothing in the world sounds as good as analog tape or recorded vinyl and it was a means to display a form of respect for Africa as "Center Of The World", a place that despite the information age is far more analog than it is digital by a long shot."

In terms of the track selections Rich spoke of integrating classics with modernity, "I wanted to be as diasporic as possible [as well as] represent a balance and coexistence between "the old" and "the new" that proves how related and important they are to each other. My desire with this mix is to take some of the musical elements that Africa has given us and make them all relate. What you hear is a one take attempt to meet my own goals in that department. I can only hope it worked as well as I'd like to think."

For World Water Day 2012 (3/22), we're partnering the release of Africa In Your Earbuds #14 with Drop in the Bucket. We spoke with the non-profit's founder, acclaimed music producer John Travis, about the importance of clean water and his organization's work:

Drop in the Bucket is a L.A. and Gulu, Uganda based non-profit that builds water wells and sanitation systems at schools in rural Africa. We see ourselves as an alternative to huge corporate charities in that, through the way we build relationships with local communities, we can get a lot achieved without spending a lot of money on overhead. We are very much a 'boots on the ground' organization that sees each community as being unique and because of that we are able to adapt each project to the needs of that specific community.

Although most of us take it for granted, clean water is a huge issue in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where two out of every five people lacks access to clean water. We have completed projects in six countries in Africa, but our main focus is northern Uganda and South Sudan.Our approach is very hands on, we scout every location personally and meet with the local community to ask them what their needs are. From these initial conversations we decide if we can help and in what capacity. We see water, sanitation and hygiene education as steps that we can use to keep children, but especially girls in school. In many cultures in Africa educating girls is not seen as a priority, and the task of collecting water each day usually falls on them. Building wells in schools is a proven effective way to get girls to attend school.

Get in touch with Drop In The Bucket on Facebook/Twitter and visit their website to learn more and get involved, and please donate if you can. Now, without further ado, stream and download Rich Medina's Africa In Your Earbuds #14 below! Big up to Underdog for the stellar cover art!

TRACKLIST

1. Khethi "Umquombothi" Alala Records 7"

2. Ghostfunk "Three Lords" Max Tannone LP

3. Alan Shelly "Doubout" Artistes Africains

4. Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat "Get Up" Tramp Records 7"

5. Orchestre Poly Rythmo "Ma Tofou Gnin O" Analog Africa Records

6. Fela Kuti & His Africa 70 "Wayo (2nd Version)" Knitting Factory Records

7. Frank Ku Umba Lacy & Matthew Shipp "Ode To The Supa Dupa Moms" Quadraphonic Sound Module Records

8. Juju "Freedom Fighter" A Message From Mozambique LP Black Fire Records

9. Les Ya Toupas Du Zaire "Je Ne Bois Pas Beaucoup" Sofrito Records 12"

10. Konono No. 1 "Paradiso" Congotronics LP - Ache Records

11. Joe Mensah "Africa Is Home (Natural Self Re-Edit)" Soundway Records

12. Little Francisco Reaves "Moving Grooving" Soundway Records 7"

13. Louis Quintero Featuring Frances Mbappe "Gbagada, Gbodogo ( Loie Vega EOL Mix)" BBE Records 12"

14. Rozza & Wine "Disco Boogie Woman (pt. 2)" Right On Records 7"

15. Buari "I'm Ready" Makossa Records 12"

16. Dele Ojo & His Star Brothers Band "Omo Iya Meji" Gele Odun 10" LP -Phillips West African Records

Previously on Africa In Your Earbuds: VOICES OF BLACK, LAMIN FOFANA, CHICO MANNDJ UNDERDOGDJ OBAHSABINEBROTHA ONACIDJ AQBTJUST A BANDSTIMULUSQOOL DJ MARVSINKANECHIEF BOIMA.

Photos
"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

This Photo Series Is a Much-Needed Counter to Violent Images of the Black Body

"Infinite Essence" is Nigerian-American photographer Mikael Owunna's response to the one-dimensional narrative we tend to see of the black body.

This beautiful, thought-provoking photo series affirms what we already know—that the black body is magical, no matter what odds are against us.

Nigerian-American photographer, Mikael Owunna, touched base with OkayAfrica to share his new photo series, Infinite Essence. The series is Owunna's response to America's issue of police brutality, like the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Walter Scott, and the viral and violent images of the dead black body we've seen as a result.

"It has become frighteningly routine to turn on the television or log onto Facebook and see a video or image of a black person either dead or dying, like images of Africans dying in the Mediterranean," Owunna says.

"With this series, I work to counter these one-dimensional narratives of the black body as a site of death and destruction with imagery capturing what I see in my friends, family and community—love, joy, and ultimately, magic."

Owunna worked on Infinite Essence for the past year, and says his creative process began with a feeling. As he notes further, it's was a process of trial and error.

"I was beginning to explore my own spirituality and journey and learning about how black, queer and trans people in particular were respected for their magical abilities in many pre-colonial African societies. I was meditating on this idea of magic and how I can capture that in my work, harkening back to the 'Final Fantasy' video games and anime series I grew up on. How could I capture all of this? I did two pretty disastrous test shoots using long exposures and lights, that did nothing for me artistically.

It had none of the feeling I was looking for. So I went back to the drawing board. I pulled up Google image search results of magic in Final Fantasy and kept scrolling and scrolling and staring at images that had that emotional tug, that spiritual capture of magic and transcendence that I so wanted to bring into the work. As I was staring at the works, a voice in my head told me glow in the dark paints, and then from looking at that I found the world of UV photography. As soon as I saw some sample works in that space, I knew that was the direction the project would go and it was all steam ahead."

Shooting this series was the first time Owunna collaborated with makeup artists Karla Grifith-Burns and Davone Goins to bring his vision to life. "It was powerful and inspirational and brought so much structure to my feeling and thought," he says.

Owunna settled on the name of his series after reading about Odinani, the Igbo traditional belief system.

"Seeking to understand the basics of that, I came across brilliant writing by Chinua Achebe wherein he used the phrase 'infinite essence' and that clicked everything around it," he says. "When I can name something, it brings it to life in my head in stunning color."

Click through the slideshow below view Owunna's series, Infinite Essence. Read his artist statement for the project, where he speaks more in depth of Achebe's work on infinite essence here. The series is also on display at Owunna's solo exhibition at Montréal's Never Apart Gallery from today until April 7, 2018.

"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

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