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Why You’ve Never Heard of Any Other Online Record Labels from Northern Ghana

The Internet doesn’t work in this part of West Africa the same way it does in the US. It is always slow, and pretty inconsistent. Even with disposable income and unlimited free time, trying to do simple things like checking email, not to mention watching YouTube videos or listening to streaming music can feel like an exercise in futility. As I’m sitting here at the Wooden Cafe—the only place in town with free Wi-Fi—a number of other expats sit around me, patiently trying to use the Internet. My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Karl Haas has been trying to open an email for about ten minutes. Not an attachment, just an email. So starting an online record label here is challenging, to say the least.
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Monday, May 5th, 2014 Audio 15 Comments

PLAN (A)B(C)

SIO music instructor Owais Omari with student in Amman

Unexpected Findings

I am sitting on a classroom floor at the primary school in Yaffa – a hillside village 20 miles from Amman – listening to thirty children play with various percussion instruments at nearly deafening decibels. Without too much trouble, my colleague Sami softens the group’s excitement and the students find a steady yet powerful unified beat. He begins a call-and-response exercise meant to teach English letter names and sounds, layering fun rhythms with nonsense syllables and short English words. The children shout eagerly in reply, their focus interrupted only by their laughter.

I am awash in a sense of relief. The class is the first session in a new program that has been months in the making. But the experience is also a surreal one. I did not plan to teach English while in Jordan, nor did I intend to design and implement a language program for several hundred children.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Thoughts 6 Comments

Sakasaka Music’s First Digital Release – Abu Sadiq

It is my great pleasure to announce the release of Sakasaka Music’s first digital album, available April 15th, 2014. A compilation of Abu Sadiq’s songs from across his career, the tracks for this album were chosen by Mr. Abu and I. As you’ll recall from a previous post, Mr. Abu is one of the most well known singers in the Northern Region, and this release makes him just the second Tamale-based artist to have his music for sale online.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Video No Comments

Demonstration in Remembrance of Berkin Elvan

Turkey held municipal elections on March 30th.  Leading up to the vote, Istanbul was energetic and tense, strung with campaign banners and aurally cluttered with the propaganda songs that blared from party vehicles cruising neighborhoods every afternoon. The Prime Minister blocked access to Twitter and YouTube. Protests were held in honor of Berkin Elvan, a teenager who fell into a coma as a result of police violence during last summer’s Gezi protests, and were broken up time and again with tear gas. No one was sure what would happen.

The vote itself passed peacefully, though with numerous allegations of fraud that included power outages in forty Turkish cities as the votes were being counted. In spite of all this, the AKP, which has been in power since 2002, managed to garner more than forty percent of the vote. Most people I’ve spoken to since the election accept the results with a deflated kind of resignation.
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Monday, April 14th, 2014 Video No Comments

Profile: Invasión Tropical

Para leer en español, click aquí.

Earlier this month, I was honored to DJ alongside Bogotá mainstays DJ Criollo and DJ Mixiticius at the second edition of the Invasión Tropical (Tropical Invasion) series (tagline: “Venimos en Son de Paz” (“We Come in Peace”)). These two artists have been holding down the alterna-Latino scene at progressive venues across the city for some time now. I met them at another party concept they hosted at the bar Latino Power called La Universidad de la Champeta, which was designated to create a space for Afro-Colombian music that’s historically found its home on the Atlantic coast, but is now emerging as a force on national and international levels with the complete takeover of champeta urbana.
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Monday, April 7th, 2014 Video 3 Comments

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