Monday, May 6, 2013

JamandaHalfxVagabrothers Destination 7: Kenya

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What's amazed me more than anything as we take this jaunt around the world is the clear, distinct, links between music from starkly different places in the world. Ghanaian calypso sounds like it could have been made in Costa Rica in the 60s, Brazilian funk shares the same melancholy feel as the Delta Blues, and Omani folk shares many common sounds with today's country, Kenya. Music, like language, is alive, and throughout history different cultures have picked and chose their way across musical currents, a slow motion mish mashing that has created these undeniably unique, but nonetheless intrinsically similar, music styles and heritages. Kenya, the Vagabrother's destination of choice for today, is home to one of the richest musical traditions of East Africa. And once again exist these clear musical connections, even to the untrained ear, that shine brightly.

The opening licks of "Ajali Haikingiti" sound eerily familiar to any Vampire Weekend fan and could easily fit in with any of their track on Contra; this Kenyan jam of course came decades before the Brooklynites gave us "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa". In other traditional Kenyan folk music you can hear echos of Oman, carried by trades routes and the trading language of Swahili along the Indian Ocean. In more modern Kenyan music you hear the fruits of the musical return of the African diaspora, with New York in this case influencing Nairobi. It is this musical give and take that has always influenced and defined music. In the case of Kenya this push and pull is especially noticeable and tangible. Check out the playlist below to hear what I mean.

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