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AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #41: JON THEODORE

Download an gem African music mixtape from Jon Theodore, former drummer of The Mars Volta/Queens of the Stone Age and others.


Jon Theodore is an all-around drumming virtuoso whom most might know from his days in The Mars Volta — during which he played an integral part in creating what's widely-held to be their best LPs De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute. Since (and before) then Theodore's held down the rhythm section for such notable acts as Queens of the Stone AgeOne Day as a Lion with Zack De La Rocha, Trans Am, HiM, and many others.

For this installment of Africa In Your Earbuds Jon Theodore rounds up a batch of dynamic vintage gems from the corners of Guinée, Congo and Kenya by the likes Kalum StarSuper Boiro Band, Collela Mazee & Victoria B Kings and more. Theodore sent us this striking description of the allure that African music had on him:

Fela Kuti [of course, the first time I heard "Zombie" it blew my mind but I don't need to get into that because EVERYONE any of us knows has the same story (Tony Allen?!)], but also some great old Ghanaian highlife, the amazing discotheque compilations from Guinée, gems from Syliphone, Syllart, and the Sterns catalog, the Malian National and Regional Orchestras of the 60s and 70s, and the unbelievably stacked Rail Band, to name only a few — these records exposed me to a beautiful new language of music that was way off the grid and wholly free of the trappings of the contemporary standards.

The rhythms, grooves, melodies, and harmonies were remarkable, the sounds were raw and powerful, and it was fast, loose, and beautifully played. The recordings were uncluttered by over processing and allowed the vibe and soul of the players and their environments to shine through most prominently. The voice, mostly in unfamiliar tongues to me, became a lead instrument like a horn or guitar, carrying the wordless music right past my brain and straight into my heart and soul. This music was as fresh as anything I'd ever heard before and it continues to be a never ending source of inspiration. Every song in this mix changed my life.

For more from Jon Theodore keep an eye out for his upcoming release with Phil Manley's Life Coach. Stream and download AIYE #41: Jon Theodore below! Big thanks to Underdog for the cover artwork.

TRACKLIST

01: Lalaba- Kalum Star- Guinée

02: Azda- Franco & Le Tout Puissant OK Jazz- Congo

03- So I Si Sa- Super Boiro Band- Guinée

04- Philo- Collela Mazee & Victoria B kings- Kenya

05- Boro- Sorry Bamba & Regional Orchestra Of Mopti

06- Samba- Balla Et Ses Balladins- Guinée

07- Eyi Yato- Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey & his Inter-Reformers Band

Like African music? Previously on Africa In Your Earbuds: DESMOND & THE TUTUSMATHIEU SCHREYER IIYOUNG FATHERSBBRAVE OF AKWAABAOLD MONEYDJ NEPTUNESAHEL SOUNDSBEATENBERGM1 [DEAD PREZ]BODDHI SATVAL’AFRIQUE SOM SYSTEMENOMADIC WAXTHE BROTHER MOVES ONLVBEN ASSITER [JAMES BLAKE'S DRUMMER]JAKOBSNAKECHRISTIAN TIGER SCHOOLSAUL WILLIAMSTUNE-YARDSMATHIEU SCHREYERBLK JKSALEC LOMAMIDJ MOMAAWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICAPETITE NOIROLUGBENGARICH MEDINA, VOICES OF BLACK, LAMIN FOFANA, CHICO MANNDJ UNDERDOGDJ OBAHSABINEBROTHA ONACIDJ AQBTJUST A BANDSTIMULUSQOOL DJ MARVSINKANECHIEF BOIMA

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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