Following on from our interview with Rhoda Dakar, Rhoda has kindly put together this wonderfully diverse Spotify playlist for us, touching on Raï, Zouglou, Arabic Pop, Country and 'Dadstep', as well as some familiar Post-Punk anthems. Listen to the playlist below and read on for some thoughtful words from Rhoda about her choices.
Into Action - Tim Armstrong
From a side project of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, A Poet’s Life, it features Canadian singer/songwriter Skye Sweetnam on vocals and is backed by labelmates and Boss Reggae supremos, The Aggrolites. Imagine my surprise, when watching Hotel For Dogs with my daughter, and suddenly I’m being serenaded by Orange County’s finest! It wakes you up, slaps you round the face and drags you to your feet! Now there are some tunes that are made to open a DJ set and for me this is a great example. Sometimes I have to choose something else, but given the chance…
Un Gaou A Oran - Magic System
Paris is the centre for World music and, inevitably, just as on the streets of London, worlds collide. This is a mash up between French speaking West and North Africa (Côte D’Ivoire and Algeria), together with indigenous Parisian rappers. I love this, I love the energy and the humour – check the video! It’s based on the Zouglou style of music, of which Magic System are famed exponents. The album title is written in slang French and should be ‘C’est ça qui est la vérité’. It’ll work in Google Translate like that. Took me a while!
Yours and My Children - Akala
Ms Dynamite’s little brother is an audaciously talented rapper, actor and activist. He founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, which seeks to engage young people through the medium of musical theatre and the rhyming of The Bard. I’ve seen him test experts on whether he’s quoting Rap bars or Shakespeare. They don’t always get it right. When I first saw him live, this track hit me like a train. Reminding us that we really are all in it together and in forgetting that simple fact, it’s our children we are letting down. All over the world. Speaking up for the voiceless. Word!
Country Girl - Primal Scream
I first saw Primal Scream live the day Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered. Lead singer, Bobby Gillespie, was obviously distressed and his honesty and emotion stayed with me. I’ve seen them many times since and bought their albums. I am a fan. Primal Scream are about music, not genre. You never know what the next helping will be, only that it will be filtered through their take on love, life and politics. I happened upon Bobby G one afternoon, just after I had bought Riot City Blues and I gushed about this track. I still feel the same now!
Shine On - Degrees Of Motion
Degrees of Motion were an underground New York band who had a couple of overground hits. During the House Wars (amongst my friends) of the early nineties, this kind of track was labelled as ‘handbag’ by the Techno fans who didn’t carry them, I presume. It is glorious, uplifting and causes me to throw my arms in the air every time I hear it. I think it was even my answerphone message for a while. Answerphones! Remember them? Love it!
Mashy Haddy - Nancy Ajram
I first heard this in my Bellydance class and had a John Peel/Undertones moment. I was witnessing a piece of perfect Arabic pop and it was overloading my senses. I didn’t punch myself in the chest, like Peelie, but did have to concentrate very hard to follow the routine! For good measure, check out the video and have your preconceptions utterly destroyed!
Night In My Veins - Pretenders
From the sublime to the dark side – having sex in the night time streets of a grimy US metropolis. You get a sense of the urgent passion and instant gratification of this encounter. I love Chrissie Hynde’s voice. I can’t sing like her, but if I could convey even a part of the innate sensuality, I would be more than happy. The way she carried herself in the music business, back in the day, was a real beacon for those of us who didn’t fit stereotypical convention. Brava!
Wisdom - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
These are the nastier, drug-addicted little brothers of the character from the previous track. Not in real life, you understand. Not completely, anyway. The bleak drone is a reflection of their wasted, thousand yard stare. For me, it’s an aural interpretation of the people sat on the floor at the parties of my youth, in the corner of the room, somewhere between life and death, heaven and hell, with their minds still ticking away. The world of BJM was captured forever in the film Dig! – documenting their San Francisco rivalry with the Dandy Warhols.
Mek It Bun Dem - Skrillex, Damian Marley
My son and I have developed a musical shorthand. I described what I wanted to hear and he played me this. It’s Dubstep that’s accessible to the older consumer, known in our house as Dadstep. Not to be disparaging, it’s just Damian Marley provides the familiar and that young scamp, Skrillex, takes it somewhere we haven’t been before. The bleating of the gainsayers and purists aside, I like it because of how it sounds. Simples!
Ouelli El Darek - Khaled
So from ‘Junior Gong’ to Tuff Gong. The King of Raï, Khaled, recorded this in Ocho Rios, with additional production in Bob Marley’s Hope Road studios, in uptown Kingston. He made an album using brilliant local musicians, including Vin Gordon on trombone and the I-Threes providing backing vocals (fe real!). Raï is an Algerian mash up of Bedouin rhythms, together with French and Southern Spanish (Al Andalus) influences and conscious lyrics. A beacon for people escaping the strictures of traditional Islamic society, it was banned, un-banned and officially disapproved of. After the first Raï artist, Cheb Hasni, was assassinated in 1994, many others fled to France finding a home amongst the large North African population.
Oliver’s Army - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I had always been a fan, but hearing this tune racked it up a notch. Written during the Cold War, but before the Falklands conflict, the British Army were mostly active in Northern Ireland and stationed in West Germany. “There’s no danger, it’s a professional career”, was a stand-out line for me. This is how the army was marketed at the time, an attitude that had hardly changed in decades. And remember, service personnel were far from the national heroes they’re considered now. Just another example of his insightful lyrical genius. Never mind the tune itself. Elvis!!
Crazy - Patsy Cline
So we’re in the studio recording ‘Mandela’ and Elvis bemoans the limited success of his Country album Almost Blue. Too over-awed to speak out previously, I finally found my voice. It was the album that turned me on to Country music! I had discovered all these brilliant female artists, most notably Patsy Cline. I sang this song to my children as a lullaby and when we travelled, I would often hear, “sing Crazy, mummy!”, from the back seats. Written by Willie Nelson. Need I say more?
Let’s Stay Together - Al Green
OK, it’s the mid seventies. Marvin had the body of work and the social conscience, but for pure, unadulterated sensuality, the Reverend Green had it, hands down. Whether snuggled up with your teenage crush, or in a club searching for your ‘ten to two beauty’ for the last dance, this was a must. The voice? Obviously! But the production? Almost claustrophobic, it clings to you in the most wonderful fashion! And breathe!
Serious Times - Gyptian
A beautiful track highlighting the horror of street violence in Jamaica. Sadly, this is a situation to which more and more of us can relate these days. Gyptian’s mournful delivery evokes a picture of Rastas sitting round a fire, banging their drums and chanting about the misery of Babylon. However, a truth told cannot be ignored. If I’m the last DJ playing, I often send the tail-enders home with this sentiment. And done.
Rhoda Dakar will be playing the Jazz Cafe, London, on Halloween to launch her new album from which 10% of all monies will be donated to the Raw Material charity. See flyer below: