13 August 2007

Monday's mp3: Obama! Obama!

Don't let that headline give you the wrong idea. While I'm excited about the idea of a more diverse group of potential presidential candidates, I'm not thrilled that the election season now runs something like two or three years. And I'm not ready to issue an endorsement. Besides, the discussion of electoral politics is something of a stretch for SoundRoots, given our focus on global music and culture, so let's approach this musically.

The post title is also part of the refrain of a campaign song put out by Amigos de Obama. It's more innovative politically than musically, but still a fun sing-a-long.

[mp3] Amigos de Obama: Obama Reggaeton

But wait...there's more. Kenyan-American group Extra Golden -- a real group, not a political action committee -- includes on their sophomore album a song called, well, you know. The group includes two benga musicians from Kenya (Opiyo Bilongo and Onyango Wuod Omari) and two indie-rockers from Washington DC (Alex Minoff and Ian Eagleson).

This tribute song was prompted in part by the group's gratitude to the Senator from Illinois for helping secure visas for the Kenyan musicians.

[mp3] Extra Golden: Obama
from the album Hera Ma Nono (release date 9 October 2007)

I've heard a preview of the album, and it includes a curious mix of African vocals and melodies and Congo-rumba-style guitar along with various touches of old-school rock, funk, and a hint of Motown.

With its mournful country slide guitar, "I Miss You" could be a country-music tear jerker, but for the African lyrics. The DC boys take over on the tribute to New Orleans "Street Parade," a straight-ahead rocker with just a hint of Kenya in the shimmering guitar. And closing the album is the title track "Hera Ma Nono," which translates as "love in vain" -- in which a husband tells how his wife said she was going to see her brother, but he suspects otherwise.

For far more about Kenyan benga, rumba, and Swahili music, check out Doug Paterson's informative article on Kenyan music. You might also check out the acoustic benga roots of Kenge Kenge.
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