TA’RAACH feat. JOY JONES / “Liberation’s Lullabye”
I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, like this week’s feature track.
Recently, I heard a mixtape by a friend of a friend that included one song I just had to get my hands on. I didn’t know the title or the artist, but it was a sweet voice floating over hard drums and, as always, that’s more than enough for me. After emailing back and forth, I finally got the artist and title and then tracked down the CD.
The tune is “Liberation’s Lullabye” by Detroit MC/producer Ta’Raach (pronounced ‘tuh-ROCK’) and a female vocalist named Joy Jones. If anybody knows more about Joy – mainly, whether or not she’s recorded anything else – hit the comments button and let me, and everybody else, know.
The rest of the album isn’t all that good or all that bad – to my ears, it’s standard issue underground hip-hop – so I won’t feature any more tracks from it. Instead I’ll hit you with some of my favorite songs in the same vein as “Liberation’s Lullabye”: records featuring sweet voices, positive sentiments and beats that knock. Hard.
Get your sweet-voiced, positive-themed, hard-knocking R&B tracks here:
• Goapele – “Closer” – From Even Closer (Skyblaze/Columbia, 2004)
• India Arie – “Butterfly” – From Red Star Sounds, Vol. 1 (Epic/Redstar, 2001)
And just for a little bit of the old school flavor – the first time I heard hip-hop drums mixed with female R&B vocals was…
• Soul II Soul – “Keep On Movin’ ” – From Club Classics, Vol. 1 (EMI/Ten, 1989)
—Mtume ya Salaam
Female emcees and drums. Yeah, OK, I’m down with that! I’ve been threatening to do some South African music, so in the vein that you’ve lined out, Mtume, here is a trio of tracks from Godessa.
“We are a female hip hop group from South Africa who focuses on social, economic and political issues which directly and indirectly affect our communities as well as our role in the larger global village. ‘Godessa’ comes from two words namely the word Goddess and the word Odessa - the ancient Egyptian City.
“We are young women growing up in a society where glamour is vastly becoming a measure of success. Role models are not women of character like the ancient goddesses or modern leaders from Mother Theresa to Patricia de Lille to Rosa Parks. They are radio and television personalities, models and singers that portray very little that is a reality in our lives. We would like to present an image of success that is not based on scantily clad bodies and make the youth aware of issues that could change their lives. Our lyrics are proudly based on what we have or people we know have experienced.”
I, of course, dig the consciousness of the sisters and how in these crazy times they forward singing about something other than personal pleasure and pretend plenty. (Ya know, blinging and otherwise signifying that we got a little money so we going to act like we got a lot and thereby advertise that having money is the most important etc. etc.—y’all know the drill).
Godessa was founded in February 2000 by Shameema Williams, an activist in Cape Town’s hip hop community. The other two members are Eloise Jones, aka EJ von Lyrik, and Burnadette Amansure, aka Burni.
The first two tracks, “Journey Of Mine” and “Mike Lesson” are from their second album Spillage, which they released in 2004 on their own High Voltage label. The third track, “Black” is a rhyme by Burni.
Look at their pictures, look at their names: seems familiar? The truth of Africa, the truth of Africans worldwide is that as a result of colonialism and imperialism, we are now a creole people, an ethnically and culturally mixed people, and in our creoleness we have a lot in common, especially our “cultural” creoleness. Look, this thing is deeper than skin. Think of all the African countries that contain diverse peoples pushed together and told they are now one. We need to recognize that the modern definition of being African equals being (having to deal with being) mixed. Even if it's a mix of black with black, it's still a creolization, still a mixture.
In an interview Burni described Godessa’s purpose: "As Godessa, we try and focus on social issues from things such as AIDS, globalization, health care, politics and even normal everyday things which affect us. So I think that to a certain extent we are the mouth piece of our communities and therefore we try and be as up to date with our comments."
This is what we need everywhere we are. We need artists relating to the reality of ourselves rather than pushing the fantasy of our commodified desires.
That’s the short and the sweet of what I have to add to the conversation about female emcees over drums.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Singing vs. rapping
I just have to note that Kalamu might've misunderstood or missed what I was talking about. Check the five tracks I selected and you'll notice it's all singing — there's no rapping at all, not even a hint of it. Soul II Soul started a trend by layering sweet-sounding R&B vocals over drum tracks that sound more like hip-hop than R&B. BUT, Soul II Soul is definitely not a rap group. Neither is Jill Scott, India Arie, Goapele, Jill Jones, etc. etc. They're all R&B singers who sometimes sing over hard drums instead of something that would more commonly be thought of as R&B.
Also, I would rather not say anything bad about Godessa because their hearts are in the right place, but they're rapping leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest problem is their flows are too choppy. They sound like they're stopping and starting (sometimes in the middle of a word) instead of just flowing smooth. Another thing is their style sounds about ten years behind the times. These songs apparently came out in the mid-2000's but they're using rhyme styles that were current in the mid-1990's. That can be kinda cool if someone's doing it on purpose, but I don't get think that's happening here.
—Mtume ya Salaam
Si Senor, I Got It
I was wondering but now I got it and fully understand. I now understand where you were headed with the selections—before your comment above, I didn't catch it even though I couldn't figure out why you were dropping Jill Scott in the mix and I didn't hear any real rapping on the Soul II Soul track, and... but I got it now.
I also understand exactly how you feel about Godessa. I'm listening to what they're saying, you are put off by how they are saying it. I fully understand why I can dig it and why you don't dig it and it all makes sense.
Hey, yall, this week's BoL is an advanced music course. And, of course, we would love for any BoL folk to add their opinons and insights... keep on pushing.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Monday, July 14th, 2008 at 12:01 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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