When we called up Brooklyn spitter/spinner Stimulus to chat about his Africa In Your Earbuds #4: WHAT IT MEANS mix we found him hanging in Buenos Aires, Argentina, beat-selecting for porteño nightowls. Stim's a busy dude, he moves around a lot — just last year he managed to play over 7 different countries while holding down residencies in both NYC and London clubs.

It's no surprise that Stimulus garners such high demand, he's got the call sheet to warrant it, which includes crafting dorm room beats with Mark Ronson in his heydays, co-fronting live hip-hop group The Real Live Show, and sharing the stage/DJ booth with the likes of De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Mos DefDead Prez, The Cure, Cee – Lo, Q-Tip, Grandmaster Flash, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, and many more.

In WHAT IT MEANS Stimulus navigates through 48 minutes of afrobeat jams with a focus on the influence of genre-pioneer and all around legend Fela Kuti. Stim related to us that he first dipped his toes into afrobeat frequenting Rich Medina's JUMP N FUNK parties, but what really made him choose the style for this mixtape was seeing FELA! the musical:

i went to see FELA! when i had a few friends in it, like Sahr [Ngaujah] and Afi [McClendon]. I interviewed them for hours on end. "What's your take on Fela? What do you feel peole don't get about him?" Both spoke about about his humanism and mysticism — he was worried about his people and humanity in general. Mysticism has gotten lost in our culture, and FELA!  is a lot about how a lack of mysticism takes away from humanity.

To make the mix, I watched a lot of Fela documentaries and listened to all the interviews I'd done with the cast. Unfortunately I lost the recordings [of the interviews], I was gonna put them on the mixtape... One of the things i watched was how Fela made his music, going up to London listening to jazz and salsa. He'd say "I make my music being inspired by all kinds of things being melded together." So i just started going through my files and listening to things that had his influence.

That's how Stimulus arrived at his afrobeat-rooted eclectic mix, which features many of Fela's own sounds plus appearances by Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, KRS One, D'Angelo, and Macy Gray. For more of Stim check out his recent 3rd 1st Impression mixtape.

Props to Underdog for some truly dope artwork, peep more of his work. Stream and download Africa In Your Earbuds #4: WHAT IT MEANS below!




Buy Africa - Fela Kuti - Shakara / London Scene - Nigeria

Egbe Mi O - Fela Kuti & Africa 70 w/ Ginger Baker - Nigeria

Monday In Lagos (Marksmen Remix) - KRS One - Afrostreet Records

Water No Get Enemy Pt. 2 - D'Angelo, Femi Kuti & Macy Gray - Red Hot + Riot

American Gangster (Mike Love Remix) - Jay Z - Nigerian Gangster

Teacher - Sahr Nguajah & Lilias White - FELA! Original Broadway Cast Recording

Don't Worry About My Mouth - Fela Kuti - Stalemate / Fear Not For Man

Remember The Time (Roforo Mix) - Michael Jackson - The King Meets The President In Africa

2000 Blacks Got To Be Free - Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers

Previously on Africa In Your Earbuds: QOOL DJ MARV, SINKANE, and CHIEF BOIMA.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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