Tumi & The Volume, Freshlyground - musical mixes from Africa
Tumi & The Volume - a black and white, South African and Mozambican mix - have had a speedy rise to fame. Freshlyground are Cape Town combo, whose song Do Bee Do went platinum in South Africa in 2005, putting them in demand in Europe, too.
Tumi & The Volume’s rise to success has been fast to say the least.
World Tracks of the month
In a new feature, Daniel Brown names World Tracks top ten for the month. Keep listening to RFI and you should hear them on our airwaves:
1) Yes we can! various artists (Outhere Records), various Africa.
2) Keep dreamin' Peeda (Essap), Liberia/France.
3) Bought for a dollar/ Sold for a dime Little Axe (Realworld), USA.
4) Roots of OK Jazz : Congo classics OK Jazz (Crammed Discs), Congo.
5) Arabitronics: Lounge Vol 1 variouis (Barbarity), Arab world..
6) The king of history DO Misiani and Shirati Jazz (Sterns Music), Kenya.
7) I show you crazy Orientation (Blue Flame), Germany.
8) Hold up du pouvoir Salim Jah (Welcom), Niger.
9) Verdade Carmen Souza (Galileo), Cape Verde.
10) Lowlin Manou Gallo (Zig Zag), Belgium/ Côte d’Ivoire.
The four musicians, led by MC Tumi Molekane, met at a slamming session in Johannesburg late 2001, started jamming together and three months later were playing festivals in Europe.
They’re black and white, South African and Mozambican.
"That was groundbreaking back in 2001,” they admit.
The big break came in 2006 at the Sakifo festival in Reunion island - a French overseas territory - where their brand of soulful hip hop driven by Tumi’s remarkable poetry got them signed up with French label Sakifo.
They also met Danyel Waro, “my favourite artist in the whole world” says Tumi.
Waro plays maloya music, Reunion’s equivalent to the blues.
The percussion-backed chanting evokes slave history and is often used to accompany rites and rituals. Waro’s links to the island’s independence movement meant it was banned til the early 80s. Tumi says discovering maloya was “mindblowing” even though he couldn’t understand a word of the creole.
“It’s functional music. I could relate to this, not as traditional South African music but as a hip hop artist. This is what I want my music to be. We bury people to hip hop, too.”
Among the many great tunes on Tumi & The Volume’s 3rd and latest album Pick a Dream there’s the hidden track Tine Blues - a magic duo with Tumi and Danyel Waro.
Freshlyground are a young seven-piece band from Cape Town, formed in 2002.
Male and female, black and white, the musicians (including violinist and flautist) are from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A rainbow band for sure.
Their eclectic music is rooted in Afro-pop and the song Do Bee Do went platinum in South Africa in 2005. Considered one of the country’s hottest, most successful bands, they’re now in big demand in Europe too, touring widely.
While their songs have often touched on social issues, they’ve never been directly political. Their latest and fourth studio album is more outspoken says the band’s frontwoman Zolani Mahola.
“This latest album, Radio Africa, it’s a lot more expressing the political situation, from Zimbabwe to the big-man syndrome around Africa and around the world; what an excess of power can do. And [it’s about] materialism. So this album much more directly political in our messagery.”
Songs like Big Man, recorded with French duo The Nubians, and Chicken for Change which invites Robert Mugabe to step aside, give you food for thought and an infectious desire to dance.