DAJLA / Dajla Mixtape

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“Round and round I go / Looking for my soul / Everybody tell me / It’s A Mystery” is the chorus hook on Dajla’s song “The Meaning Of Life.” That is also the title of her third release. In this age of instant global communication, what happens in one place can be simultaneously experienced in almost any other spot on the planet. The cultural exchange is not only instantaneous, it’s no longer text based. Indeed, in some ways its easier to communicate with sound and image than with text.

What used to take years to be absorbed in one culture from another now happens in a matter of minutes. Musical culture has been profoundly affected by the latest developments in communications technology. The impact has been paradigm changing in terms of the business of music, which can no longer be dominated by major corporations. Today, using computers and mobile technology, living room and bedroom studios worldwide can produce music on a par with expensive studios.

Moreover, new styles and new developments in music production are immediately available worldwide. You no longer have to wait for a record to be produced and distributed, or wait for an artist to tour. Distribution is a simple two or three minute upload/download away. And we can hear, if not watch, concerts in real-time on our mobile telephones.

One of the results of this development is that no style of music is foreign. Music is now really universal. A hip hop head in Iran can check out the latest from Kanye West or Lupe Fiasco. Rasta lovers in Poland can create an Irie scene. A funk devotee in Morocco can bliss out on P-Funk. And so forth, and so on.

There was a time when both critics and musicians seriously recognized that non-American musicians were lagging far behind in their ability to replicate black American music genres. Popular music in particular is now a worldwide phenomenon not only from the standpoint of consumption (i.e. fans who like the music) but is also worldwide from the standpoint of production (i.e. musicians who can play the music).

That long preamble was simply an introduction and deconstruction of how technology informs the phenomenon of Dajla. Dajla was born of a father from Tunisia and a French/American mother. Reared on the western coast (Atlantic side) of France she began formal studies at 6 and graduated at sixteen. She is a vocalist, bass player and song writer.
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When she was seventeen Dajla started playing bass after meeting Angelo Moore (of the band Fishbone) in 1992. She moved to London in 1994 and performed as a member of the rocksteady band 100 Men and the pop band Eversholt. She also collaborated with female vocalist Z Star playing bass in her band. However Dajla’s major musical influence is her musical partnership with drummer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Benji Blow whom she met in France in 2004.
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Benji Blow co-produced her two full-length albums, Soul Poetry and The Meaning Of Life, as well as the Motherland EP. While all of the production work is first-rate, her latest full length release, The Meaning Of Life, is outstanding.

Life is a funk record that requires no apologies or caveats. It’s not “good for a European funk album,” it’s great, period. No comparisons necessary. While the hip hop influences are obvious, what really propels the album to the top of the funk hierarchy is the combination of live instrumentation and great production/engineering, mated to insightful, relevant, and undeniably funky songs. Dajla calls her music Afrodelic Soul and it doesn’t take long to understand why she came up with that name. All of the ingredients are obvious.

I am particularly impressed by the overall sound, especially how they kept the production raw with snippets and snatches of ad-libs of informal jamming pushed up next to the formal songs, some of which just start without a downbeat or a unison intro. You can hear that these musicians were into playing for the funk of it rather than concentrating on making a pristine recording.
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Moreover, although English is not her mother tongue, Dajla displays clearly articulated language unmarred by what some of us consider an annoying accent. Dajla also works within her limits: she not a great vocalist and no match for Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, instead what propels Dajla’s music is her willingness to share her intimate thoughts while avoiding the trap of over-singing attempting to display emotion by exaggerated oohhs and ahhs. Indeed, on half of the songs she talk/sings, which is much better than faking the funk. Plus, she features fellow vocalists and rappers who are obviously in their element. Thus the overall sound is authentic.

This could easily have been a Brooklyn neo-funk release but it’s not. The Meaning of Life is a statement of fact: real funk can be produced worldwide. I am eager to hear the third album that is currently under production.

Who would have thunk something this funky could be grown across the great pond, in France no less. Off the top of my dome I can’t think of a funkier acoustic release from 2010.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

Dajla Mixtape Playlist

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Soul Poetry
01 “River Tigris”
02 “I Don't Care”
03 “Never Too Late”
04 “Remember Me”
05 “Scandalous!”

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The Motherland
06 “At Last”
07 “The Motherland Feat Metropolis”

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The Meaning Of Life
08 “24/Seven”
09 “Consequences feat. DR Mado Vibe”
10 “The Meaning Of Life feat. The Procussions”
11 “Break Your Chains”
12 “R.A.C.E.S. feat. Magick Malik (Reconsider The Absurd Concept 2 Elevate Ur Sp irit)”
13 “Gift Of Life”
14 “A Consciousness Is Rising”

This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 3:16 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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