Today, Nov. 19, is the anniversary of Ofra Haza's birth. Since I'm sure most of my readers here know who she is, I won't go into much detail about her life (nor subsequent death due to AIDS-related pneumonia).
I will say, though, that discovering her music was a game changer for me. First off, finding Desert Wind on cassette when I was in college was my first real introduction to pop music in a non-European language. Though most of the lyrics are in English, much of it is in Hebrew and Arabic (and Aramaic, wiki tells me). I found myself loving the non-English parts a lot, and I think that began what has become a bit of an obsession with non-English language music, especially pop.
Here she is on The Tonight Show performing "Ya Ba Ye" from that album.
(Incidentally, I have been teaching myself Arabic, and I just for the first time caught a bit of the Arabic in the lyrics. She sings, "My mother always told me, / ya binti..." The word binti means "my girl", and ya is a word used when addressing someone. Not much, but hey, I guess it means *some* of the Arabic is staying in my head! )
Further investigation into Ofra Haza's music led me to Im Nin'alu, a song of hers using a centuries-old poem as the lyrics.
I missed the irony at the time, but "Im Nin'alu" is a song that says, "Even if the gates of the rich are closed, the gates of Heaven will be open". Kind of an interesting choice for a song about getting "paid in full".
Finding "Im Nin'alu" really solidified my love of sampling and sample culture. Its use in the "Paid in Full" remix is a perfect, textbook example of a sample which had nothing but a positive effect on the original source. This is the kind of thing that nowadays is often the casualty with constrictive copyright enforcement.
I'll leave you with my favorite appearance of hers: The Black Dog's "Babylon", remixed (or rather "infected") by The Scourge of the Earth, a.k.a. Jimi Cauty. The coming together of The Blag Dog (a group formerly containing the guys from Plaid), Jimi Cauty (who was half of one of my top 10 favorite bands), and Ofra Haza represents a lot of what I love about music, as well as being a sort of "Who's Who" of my cd & record library.
so, i was a bit of a mess this morning, it being monday and all that. i got dressed, came to work, got coffee, grabbed food, and worked for a while. it wasn't until i went to the rest room and saw myself in the mirror when i realized that my collar had somehow gotten flipped up, probably from screwing around with my badge/lanyard.
WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME?! seriously, that's like not telling me i have a booger stretching from my nostril back across my cheek.
For quite a few years now (ever since hanging out with J-Man back in college) I have been a fan of German-language rap. However, it sort of dawned on me the other day that I haven't really gotten much in the way of stuff newer than late-90s era Deutsch rap (with the exception of getting newer albums by those perennial favorites, Fettes Brot and Die Fantastischen Vier), so, I went digging a bit, and found a few newer things. My taste in rap generally tends away from more "traditional" hip-hop and rap sounds, and more towards rapping in a different musical context, so I'm always excited to find good stuff like this.
I should say, for the record, that my German is what I'd call "ok", meaning I can have conversations, but much of the lyrical content in these songs zips right by me. So, it's entirely possible that I could be posting songs by terrible lyricists and don't even know it.
First off is Peter Fox, whom I discovered as the "feat." artist in the "Marry Me" single by the excellent Miss Platnum.
I dig the orchestral riff a lot, and the drums drive the song nicely. It doesn't have a hip-hop beat, really, just a sort-of pulsing rhythm driven by the Cold Steel Drumline, who appear in the video as well (watch through to the end to see a bit of a tag with some extra bits focusing on them. This single is from Fox's album Stadtaffe, German for "City Ape", thus the masks. (Another track from the same record, "Schwarz zu Blau" also features the ape masks, as well as the Drumline guys and a nice 3:3:2 beat.)
From there, I found Sido, whom I immediately connected to MF Doom, as he often wears a metallic mask, but there's really no similarity in their styles. Here's a live appearance on Mtv Europe, performing "Rodeo", featuring the aforementioned Peter Fox, but without the skull mask:
Among his many projects over the years, Sido collaborated with Harris in a duo amusingly named Deine Lieblings Rapper ("Your Favorite Rapper"). Sido has a reputation for dark and confrontational lyrics, and I imagine this track, "Steh Wieder Auf", is no exception:
I really wish my German were better; the wisps of stuff I catch in passing are really quite crazy (similar to another, non-rap track that's a fave of mine from back in the day).
One more quick one: when looking through youtube for something to post here, I couldn't resist their eponymous track, simply because the music is a bit reminiscent of Wonky, in that it's quite a bit off-kilter, beat-wise, for quite a bit of the song:
It's not Wonky per se, but it's got enough similarities that I think I'm going to bust out some Zomby.