Well, the video clip isn’t so good, but I like the sound of it.
More Suzana Ansar for you… This apparently is a Nazrul song. “Nazrul” refers to the work of the revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also known as the national poet of Bangladesh.
Wikipedia has some very interesting info about Kazi Nazrul Islam:
Kazi Nazrul Islam (Bengali: কাজী নজরুল ইসলাম) (25 May 1899-29 August 1976) was a Bengali poet, musician, revolutionary, and philosopher who pioneered poetic works espousing intense spiritual rebellion against orthodoxy and oppression. His poetry and nationalist activism earned him the popular title of Bidrohi Kobi (Rebel Poet)…
Nazrul’s writings explore themes such as love, freedom, and revolution; he opposed all bigotry, including religious and gender…
While explicitly avowing his affinity to Islam, and calling for upholding Islam for its universalistic essence, values and spirit, he believed that medieval Islamic practices and religious conservatism were hurting Indian Muslims as well as the Muslim world, and keeping them backward, intensifying social and sectarian challenges…
Nazrul is hailed for his sincere conviction in the liberation of women. His poems explored the independence of a woman’s mind and the ability to perform diverse roles in society.
Bangla music – that is, Bengali music, rooted in the traditions of Bangladesh and West Bengal. Suzana Ansar was born in London, but she’s promoted the music of her Bengali/Bangla roots with some success. More recently, she’s done some work with the DJ/producer whose work I just posted, State of Bengal.
And by the way, sympathies and solidarity to the communities hit by Cyclone Sidr, especially those hit hardest – always, of course, the poor.
Pull up the people!
I bumped into good old State of Bengal in my Net searches because I had Bangladesh on my mind – but those thoughts are addressed better in the post after this. “State of Bengal” once did refer to a group, but nowadays, it just means this one guy – with a number of people here and there, like Rosina Kazi (the singer in this video) and Suzana Ansar.
The individual named State of Bengal spent most of his life in London, though Wikipedia tells us he was actually born in Pakistan. He picked up the name “State of Bengal” because he was inspired by a trip to Bangladesh, where he made connections with a bunch of musicians, etc. But what he does most, as far as I can tell, is a very UK-based blend of electronica and hip-hop.
I posted this video because it’s an anti-war video, and a moving one at that. The song’s interesting too – but, then, most of his are.
At MASALA. Their bhangra-reggaeton-dancehall-hip-hop mix is particularly good in places, and it’s fairly unique among the downloadable mixes that I’ve found lately. It’s also nice and noisy, good for playing through headphones on the subway. (Well, maybe not if you’re especially concerned about preserving your hearing, but on the other hand, if your aim is to drown out the train…)
Just a brief word on two sites that I stumbled on for those who feel like putting together some danceable sounds…
First, you can check out Tutorial: Create A Dubstep-Style Bassline.
Then, maybe you’d like to try your hands at the Virtual Tabla (I really like that one).
Actually, I like this video much more than the last one I posted. It’s Bally Sagoo live.
The Bally Sagoo CD that I bought the other day contains a remix of a well-circulated song called “Mera Laung Gawacha.” I originally had this remix on the first Rough Guide to Bhangra, about seven years ago. It was my favorite song on that comp. It’s a good illustration of what I was saying the other day when I said that back in the ’90s, Bally Sagoo really did dancehall music…
It’s good to see that other blogs are talking about Natacha Atlas, not so good to see that the coverage isn’t always positive. But the good things first… Thanks to the initial post from BobFromBrockley that led me to the video for the song “Mon Amie La Rose” posted at The Egypt Blog. The blogger at the latter post states, “This is the first song I ever heard for the GREAT NATACHA ATLAS, that was back in 2001…”
Trying to remember the first time I heard Natacha Atlas, it must have been the very early ’90s, when she appeared on one of two albums I had on tape from Jah Wobble (formerly of Public Image Limited). But for some reason, I didn’t really notice Natacha that much in the Wobble material (instead, Wobble actually brought me to the pop-ghazal fusion singer Najma, whom I might discuss here sometime later – though I admit I haven’t been all that fond of her work in recent years). The first time I really noticed Natacha Atlas was on the first Transglobal Underground album Dream of 100 Nations, which I bought on vinyl, probably (though the memory is fuzzy now) in 1994. Since ’94 – for the past 13 years – I have been a big Natacha Atlas fan. In fact, if M.I.A. hadn’t given me the inspiration and title for this blog, I probably would have named it after one of Natacha’s songs. So, I’m not about to dismiss Natacha Atlas over a dumb remark that she made, and I know that she’s no dummy in general.
But back over at BobFromBrockley, a discussion has developed over Natacha’s disputed semi-Jewish identity, her backtracking with regard to that issue, and an unfortunate statement that she made. Apparently, back in the ’90s, she seemed all too happy to let the word get around that she was part-Jewish, which helped to promote the global- mashup sort of image that served her so well at the time. That may have changed now that she’s more firmly established as an Arabic singer and has such a good reputation in the Arab world. (But this is also after a time during which she has become more drawn to Islam. So, one would hope that her apparently changing attitude about her identity has more to do with her personal beliefs than concerns about her image and fan base.) In one recent interview, she also made the unfortunate remark that somone who’d said in an article that her father was Jewish was someone who “had a grudge” against her. There are various ways that statement could be interpreted. But, even seen in the worst light, we should not let that one small statement detract from all the many good statements that she has made, as she has been outspoken in her opposition to wars and her desire for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East. Nor should we let such a statement detract from our appreciation of the real work of her life, her music.
At any rate, if you want to see all the details of the debate, you should go over to Bob’s blog and also some prior comments here. (And by the way, thanks to Transpontine of History Is Made At Night for bringing me into all of this.)
There’s no need for me to comment here further, except to address a statement that one person made, that Natacha Atlas comes off as “an ass” in interviews. I have to say, I can’t agree at all on that. I’ve found her to be quite intelligent in interviews and sometimes quite charming.
For example, I’m going to post a little interview material that I found. I like a number of things she says, including her statement that “governments are liars.” Who could argue with that?