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Exclusive: Chico Mann's 'Magical Thinking' Playlist

Stream a playlist of Antibalas member Chico Mann's afrobeat and Cuban gem inspirations for his new album "Magical Thinking"


Antibalas guitarist/singer Marcos García aka Chico Mann is readying the release of his upcoming full-length Magical Thinking, out April 14 via Soundway Records. As a palate whetter of sorts, Chico's compiled a video playlist of some sounds that inspired the new record. Stream it below and read about the influence of each tune from the man himself.

These tracks represent many different, though not all, aspects of my musical psyche as Chico Mann. They represent a variety of musical traditions and employ devices that I refer to all the time in my process [like] the use of the clave, harmony, call and response, polyrhythm, emotional motivations and cadence.

Most importantly though, I feel some kind of resonance with these songs because of the context in which I grew up; as the child of Cuban exiles who grew up in a suburb of New York in the 1980's. The more I think about it, these songs just barely scratch the surface of what inspired Magical Thinking, but they paint a really good picture of where I'm coming from.

TRACKLIST

Strafe "Set It Off"

So Jersey...hard to imagine growing up in the tri-state area and not having heard this song.

Stevie B "Diamond Girl"

Another Jersey classic...Classic Freestyle

Slave "Touch of Love"

Irresistible melody, groove. Makes me feel like a little kid.

Evelyn Champagne King "Love Come Down"

Reminds me of being a little kid when my cousins would be getting ready to go out clubbing. This song made such a deep impression on my psyche. So many Chico Mann musical devices come from this track.

Bonny Cepeda y Orquesta "Me Tiene Chivo"

My dad put out this record in 1982. Bonny and his brother, Richie, were regular guests at our house. One of my favorite tunes as a kid. Came back to it many decades later when I was imagining what El Merengue del Futuro (Merengue of the Future) could sound like with drum machines and synths in deep space.

Fela Kuti "Gba Mi Leti Ki N'dolowo (Slap Me Make I Get Money)"

One of my favorite Fela tunes; Tony Allen kills this rhythm. We cover this song in Antibalas.

Fela Kuti "I No Get Eye for Back"

Tough, tough, tough..."demo biring cutlass!"

Arsenio Rodriguez "El Divorcio"

First heard this song in my early twenties; took on a fresh meaning when I got divorced in 2012.

Celia Cruz y La Sonora Matancera "La Sopa en Botella"

Bola de Nieve "Drume Negrita"

Cuban parents threaten their kids with "pau-pau" if they misbehave. Can't say how many times I faced the dreaded threat of "pau-pau!" Bola de Nieve is so loving and tender in this song, I can only strive to reach this level of immediacy and emotional authenticity. This song gets me every time.

Bola de Nieve "Señor, Por Que"

These songs resonate with me on a deeply emotional and spiritual level. The only Cuba I really know is a mythical place built of stories, memories, nostalgia, and longing. My cousin, Cristina García, does a really good job of describing the feeling of being culturally displaced in her book, Dreaming in Cuban.

I have never actually been displaced, thankfully, but the feeling among Cubans in the US is palpable and is transmitted across generations. For better or worse, its part of my context as well, and probably why I feel so drawn emotionally to Celia, Arsenio, and Bola de Nieve. In reality though, the music speaks for itself. They're three of my favorite giants of Cuban music.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

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Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

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If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

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Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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