Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Many Lessons

(click on image to see a larger version)

While technically speaking one could argue that hip-hop originated as a musical genre in NYC in the late 70's, the truth of the matter is that its roots go back further in time as well as farther in distance. Check out the image above for a little history lesson. If you click on the image it will take you to a larger version that you can actually read. Trace the line back, and you end up in Africa, which is where today's CD takes us.

In some ways, this music has come full circle, with hip-hop traveling back across the Atlantic and finding a place with its ancestors. Many Lessons is a collection of West African artists who have taken hip-hop and re-integrated it back into its deeper, original roots - the ones that are so far below the surface that they're often ignored. You'll probably not recognize any of the names here (the only one I did was Gokh Bi System, and that's because they were at the Green River Festival I went to last weekend), but that doesn't mean you're not going to like what you hear.

This new breed of African hip-hop artists have integrated their Muslim beliefs into the music, creating music that focuses on faith instead of the materialism that is so prevalent in American rap. Much of the album is not in English (about two thirds of it - with an occasional English word or phrase mixed in here and there), which, depending on your listening style, might hamper your efforts to appreciate how these musicians are claiming hip-hop as their own. Even without getting all the lyrics though, you can still appreciate the beat.

Visit the Piranha Records website and visit the compilation's MySpace page.