by Miles Raymer
After seeing a trailer for the upcoming video game Far Cry 2, I have to say that my friend Gabe over at Videogum might be right when he calls it out for its "insanely racist depictions of atrocities going on right now." But there's an upside to Far Cry 2's existence: it's led to Adult Swim putting out yet another amazing and totally free MP3 compilation, this time an FC2-branded collection of contemporary African hip-hop called African Swim.
Some of the songs bend hip-hop's framework to accommodate traditional African rhythms and sounds, like Jozi's "Motherland," which works in highlife guitar and isicathamiya vocals. Other tracks, like Da L.E.S.'s "We're on Fire," sound like a guy trying to sound like Dipset and who just happens to be from Johannesburg instead of Harlem. (Weirdly, Da L.E.S. is a member of Jozi, which is sort of like if Juelz Santana were also in the Roots.)
While I'm at it, here are some other Afrocentric tidbits of note:
1.) A lot of people were distinctly unjazzed about Vampire Weekend's WASP-ification of African music, in part because it seemed to be a new version of the old "white people riding black people's music to fame and glory" thing. Those people probably ought to hear VW's tune "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" taken back to Africa--metaphorically at least--by the Very Best, Esau Mwamwaya's collaboration with Radioclit. Does the fact that an African (albeit an African living in London) has apparently bestowed his blessing on the song legitimize VW's appropriation or throw it further into stark relief?
2.) I'm convinced that DJ Mujava's minimalist Afro-house cut "Township Funk" (reviewed by Jessica Hopper in her recent roundup) might actually edge out Bangladesh's "A Milli" to be the best beat of the year. I expect to hear Kanye jack that naggingly catchy synth-lead part any day now.