The phrase "cultural exchange" usually conjures up something well-meaning and worthy, but not terribly interesting; something you check out because you feel you ought to rather than because you think it might be hot. So we were a tad sceptical we first heard about the Goethe-Institute-initiated Nairobi-Berlin/Berlin-Nairobi exchange programme NRBLN - BLNRB last year, but then we received the flyer for their December 2010 performance in Berlin and saw the names of theh artists involved and realised, ok, now this could be something. Just A Band, Abbas Kubaff, Lon'Jon, Kimya, Ukoo Flani and Nazizi, these were some of Nairobi's top-tier talent teaming up with equally top-tier acts from Berlin's electronic music scene to try to fuse two vibrant but distinct club music genres from the two capital cities.
We're sure we weren't alone in feeling crushed we couldn't be in berlin in December for their gig, but consolation has arrived in the form of the 18-track album BLNRB—Welcome to the Madhouse! just out on Outhere Records. And our hunch proved correct, this is not your run of the mill "cultural exchange" project.
In their own words:
"Something happened during those long nights in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. Something new. It was a meeting of two aesthetics, two club music genres; in some way two continents. Three highly acclaimed bands from the world-renowned Berlin electronic music scene travelled to Nairobi, Kenya: Modeselektor a hyperactive breakbeat-duo, curious electronic producers Gebrüder Teichmann and Jahcoozi, the multicultural Star trio composed of Dubstep, Grime Rave and hyper-sonic Electronica.
From Kenya, rappers like Mister Abbas, Kimya and Lon ́Jon or the first lady of Kenyan rap, Nazizi, became part of the joint collaboration. The electropop band Just A Band and singer/guitarist Michel Ongaro also contributed their flavours. In addition, six members of the HipHop collective Ukoo Flani from the coastal city of Mombasa were a key part of the body of MCs who would turn up every day and night.
BLNRB - Welcome To the Madhouse (Dala Dala Mix)
BLNRB - WELCOME TO THE MADHOUSE (DALA DALA MIX) by OuthereRecords
Two studios were established in a townhouse in Nairobi, where everyone in the project worked, performed and lived together. The above-mentioned bands were invited but word spread like fire within Nairobi’s music scene. Quickly there was a frenzy of artists coming and going, the now infamous Madhouse was born.
The goal was to find out what happens if one attempts to fuse the club cultures of two capitals in different parts oft he world. The name of the project became BLNRB, a fusion of the street-level abbreviations of the two cities involved.
BLNRB - 5-track set
BLNRB by OuthereRecords
Says Nazizi, “I remember listening to these beats for the first time, liking them, I could listen, but I didn’t think I could ever rap to it. Now I’m proud of it. I love what Teichmann brothers did and the amazing experience working with Modeselektor and Jahcoozi. Soon we will have our own BLNRB sound. I think it’s gonna be the beginning of greater things, we gonna start a revolution!”
BLNRB – Welcome to the Madhouse features 18 original recordings – as diverse as the more than 20 artists involved. The international electro club music scene has become all about the latest styles and sounds treated with the newest digital technology; ingredients are hard to find in Africa. This album bridges this gap and opens a path into a new global club sound. This is not about randomly sampling "African music“, this is about digging deep into the local Nairobi music scene and building a new sound together with some awesome talents from the next generation of African musicians. The experience in Nairobi changed everyone involved and the results touch music fans in both worlds: club audiences in Berlin and in Nairobi".
1 "Goldbreaks Variation" Abbas, Kimya, LJ, Teichmann
2 "Madhouse" Nazizi, Jahcoozi, Abbas
3 "Dirty Laundry" Teichmann, Abbas, Kimya, LJ
4 "Msoto Millions" Jahcoozi, Ukoo Flani
5 "Very Necessary" Necessary Noize, Teichmann
6 "Room For Me" Just a Band, Jahcoozi
7 "Ma Bhoom Bhoom Bhoom" Jahcoozi, Ukoo Flani, Radi
8 "Everyday Without You" Teichmann, Alai K
9 "Living Room" Teichmann, Ukoo Flani, Dogs
10 "Monkeyflip" Modeselektor, Nazizi, Abbas
11 "Goldbreaks" Teichmann, Kimya, LJ, Abbas
12 "Take It Higher" Jahcoozi, Little King, Robo
13 "Kumbuka" Jahcoozi, Michel Ongaro, Abbas
14 "Richie Interlude" Teichmann, Ukoo Flani
15 "Kibera Benga" Massai Mbilli, Modeselektor, Just a Band
16 "Away" Just a Band, Jahcoozi, Teichmann, Michel Ongaro
17 "Zamaney" Jahcoozi, Ukoo Flani
18 "Whateverman Dub" Teichmann, Ukoo Flani
BLNRB on Facebook
Out | Here Records
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