Music has always been a world commodity. This is part two of a multi-part series showcasing sounds from around the world.
After I came up with the idea of giving a glimpse into music around the world, I knew there would be a major obstacle that required navigation – the non-English speaking world. Based on a couple of quick interwebs searches, it would appear that 73% of the world does not speak English…eek. But then again, you watch videos, hearing stories of bands playing in front of thousands of fans in different nations who were all singing along. So, there’s hope with that…and my mother used to tell me an old story that some of the members of ABBA didn’t know English until after they made it and they learned it phonetically…but that was probably just a rumour. I am left with two options. On one hand, I can just sit back, focus on a dozen or so countries, and take it easy. On the other hand, I can scour the interwebs for hours and hope to come up with one band and have some lean weeks…I did start off with an easy Australia. Just another 11 of those and I’m good to go right? I’ll liken it to covering the NCAA tournament. Sure, I could just focus on the ACC and Big East and go “well here’s where a good 12 teams will come from, so let’s just look at Duke and Georgetown again!” or I can work on every conference. I mean, eventually you’re going to end up at the WAC. Ok, yes, they get one automatic bid, yes it will probably be New Mexico State, ok, enjoy your 14 seed and a first round loss…I mean, really, who’s going to beat them? Idaho? Ha! Prove me wrong Vandals, prove me wrong…
What better place to start our journey than the quiet peaceful…er…depressing places in the world. There’s nothing really that can be said about Afghanistan other than…well, alphabetically they are first on the list. So…I figure if we’re going to start low, let’s get real low, shall we?
Soosan Firooz is Afghanistan’s first female rapper. . . I had a long paragraph about rap and how she should be rapping about her 20’ rims and her gold teeth and her bees in the trap, but, although the definition of ‘rap’ can be loosely applied to this, the English subtitles echo its melancholy…this is one for the lyrics, not for the sound.
Let us quickly move on, shall we? When I wrote about in the previous article about me actually finding some new music for my iPod and in this article about finding a diamond in the rough, I introduce you to the first group on said list. The might be the biggest thing in Afghani Rock right now (ok…the only thing it seems), a band called Kabul Dreams. This trio has a simplistic alt-rock sound that is really no different from anything that can be found on college radio. I am trying very hard to avoid saying they sound like a heavier oasis because the lead singer does sort of sound like Liam Gallagher. They sing in both English and Persian (Dari).
– in Dari
– also in English.
This is a band I hope to hear from more of in the future, not only because of their location and their situation there, but because it’s not bad music. This band has potential.
We move on from one tough territory to another in Albania. The first two things that come to mind when I think about Albania are GTA IV and this quiet little picnic. Also, they have a reputation for being a very tough crowd. With that being said, and after mentioning some Afghani rap, we are in the need for some (unintentional) comic relief. I know you turn on the MTV and you see the videos and you’re like “oh yeah, we can do that!” but when you’re out wearing football jerseys and FUBU and you look like the lead singer from the Bloodhound Gang, it is hard to take this group seriously. 2 Die 4:
Albania, however, does have a very strong hip-hop scene. One of the more amusing things to me is how they’re rapping their native Albanian and then you’ll hear an English phrase or two out of nowhere. But that’s just me. I will start with the leader of the Ham Squad, and I assume it means something different there than it does here, but this is SingullaR with the Ham Squad Anthem-
Music, much like the culinary arts, has peaked. There is no new sound being discovered. There are no new instruments. All you can do is just mix two separate styles and see what comes out. With that being said, I do not see any similarities between Albania and Puerto Rico, but someone has mixed Albanian Rap with Raggaeton. Yes, this exists. This is Lyrical Son with Tabullarasa –
Lastly is Albania’s answer to DJ Clue, DJ Flow. DJ Flow feels the need to shout out his name before this song, so don’t forget…bitch.
Featured on this track is MC Kresha, who might be the biggest thing in the region, and we will see him later in the Kosovo section, but with rhymes like “Who the illest? I Die hard, Bruce Willis,” he pretty much is already at Lil Wayne level of rapping.
Not everything is all rap though. I think Iron Maiden had to be one of the first global metal acts, as it seems like of all the hard music around the world, there’s always one band that sounds like a poor man’s Iron Maiden, and here is Albania’s entry in the PMIM sweepstakes – Thunder Way
But doubling back to hip hop for a minute, and I know this is sort of cheating, but I get the feeling with some of these countries I’m going to have to rely on descent. Yeah, ok, they’re from California, but they represent the great nation of ____. I mean, if Chris Kaman can play for the German national team in the Olympics….
The reason I make note of this because I have to shed light on one of the hundreds of thousands of underrated rappers (what rapper isn’t referred to that who isn’t upper echelon?) out there. Action Bronson is a queens-based rapper of Albanian descent who is the closest thing to Ghostface Killa since Ghost himself. Ok yes, he sounds exactly like him, but if you’re going to be compared to someone, it’s better to be favourably compared to a legend rather than be a “poor man’s Matchbox Twenty.” Either way, Mr. Bronson has been getting some airplay this summer on the hip-hop stations with his single “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”
Also worth a listen is his “rare chandeliers” mixtape, which is not only very well done, but it also gave us this classic video for “the Symbol”
One more note on AB. I know there are a lot of rap songs out there that reference wrestling in general (mostly Ric Flair), but I don’t think anyone anywhere has given a shot out to Marty Janetty. I mean, seriously, Marty Janetty?
…and it doesn’t stop there, here he is with his song Ron Simmons
…and for the trifecta, Barry Horowitz
Andorra is…well technically a country. Geographically, it is the size of Albuquerque New Mexico and maintains a population comparable to that of Fall River Mass, Duluth MN, and Gary Indiana…so it’s safe to say I’m not going to find much of a home-grown music scene here. (ironically: Gary Indiana gave us the Jackson siblings and Bob Dylan was born in Duluth. So, I found that amusing.)
Andorra does have a small death metal scene, most notably the band Persephone. Apparently they’re somewhat of a big deal as they just completed a Chinese tour, so if death metal is your thing, and countries like Germany and Norway are too mainstream for you, there’s Persephone.
For the prog-metal (aka poor man’s tool) Crowd, there’s Nami.
And for those of you who wish it was 2004 again as you look at your Sum 41 and Good Charlotte posters as you wake up every morning, here is “skate punk” band Anonymous:
Aw man, I wonder if they’re going to close down that youth center! Is Justin Long going to get the then nerdy now hot girl? Is that D-bag ________ [frat boy / evil businessman / principal ] (insert one) going to get his way? Awwww Yeaaaah !
Angola is a former Portuguese Colony on the Southwestern coast of Africa. The only things I know about Angola can be summed up by two articles, one involving a missing airplane, and the other involving the Chinese. So, needless to say, I did not expect to find much from there.
First up are rockers Neblina, who initially really remind me a bit of the puero rican band Puya.
Until I found some of their newer stuff, which has moved into the thrash metal category
Nevertheless, they seem to be the most popular act out there from Angola.
Second, we move to the death metal category with the strangely named Nothing 2 Lose. I just need to point out that I did not expect this sound to come out of the lead singer who sort of looks a little bit like a young Wayne Brady.
If thrash is too much for you, we can scale it back to a textbook metalcore band. Some screaming, some gunting, some meloding singing with heavy breakdowns in the middle.
The funny/sad/ironic thing about this although the audio production value is extremely low, it is the same quality that basement hardcore kids produce here in the states, so take it for what it’s worth. Also, just sort of demonstrating my point, the lead singer sports a Bullet for My Valentine shirt, just illustrating (to me at least) the global commodity that is music.
Shifting to hip hop now, I guess Angola’s top guy in general would have to be Paul G, with his hit single “Bang It All”.
I must point out that Akon is on this song, and any song Akon has ever been on all sounds exactly the same. So if you want to hear another Akon song, have at it.
Currently topping the Angola pop chart would have to be the rapper Kalibrados, who also sounds just like Akon. However, his hype man or whoever the T-Pain guy in this song… Just listen for yourself –
WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF THAT! Something better be lost in translation. Something has to be! Why? Why on earth would you do that?!
As always, hopefully you enjoyed the column and who knows, maybe there’s something that catches your ear…stranger things have happened. Thank you for reading.