Five artists to discover: May 2013 edition

This is my third monthly list of the music that’s been playing on my Ipod in the last few weeks. (Click the links to check out the lists for March and April)

Once again, expect a diverse mix with artists hailing from all parts of the world!

N.O.H.A

The acronym N.O.H.A. stands for Noise of Human Art and is the title under which a multicultural group of musicians operates. Noha is also the last name of Phillip Noha, one of the prominent members of this ensemble. Together, the band creates funky beats by mixing drum & bass with a variety of musical sounds and chants from allover the world. Their music is genre bending and defies labels, but people who usually enjoy what falls under the ‘world music’ and ‘electro’ categories should find something to enjoy.

Idir

Idir is an Algerian musician of Berber origin. Known as an activist for the rights of the Kabyle people, he remains quite mysterious despite his longtstanding popularity in the music world. He has expressed little love for show-business and has, one more than one occasion, left the public eye for a number of years before reappearing with new songs. His latest album Adrar Inu was released earlier this year. He has been known to say that he didn’t choose his career, it chose him.

Toto la momposina

With a long career singing many beautiful canciones, Toto la Momposina has earned the nickname of ‘Queen of Cumbia’. You may not know her name yet but chances are you’ve heard her voice before, either through collaborations (Calle 13) or samplings (Michel Cleis). Here is one of my personal favorites from her amazing catalogue of songs:

Rodriguez

If you’ve never heard of Sixto Rodriguez and his amazing story, I urge you to go watch the documentary ‘Searching for Sugarman‘ (available for rent on Netflix and at all good video stores). Here’s a good article that tells his tale, but if you don’t have the time to read it or watch the movie, here’s the gist: it’s the story of a man who made a couple of albums in the 70s, never got famous so he quit music and moved along with his life. Twenty years later he found out that his supposedly unsuccessful albums had sold hundreds of thousands of copies in South Africa and that without even being aware of it he was a legend over there, with a level of fame comparable to that of the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. Fans of Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Donovan and Nick Drake will surely enjoy his sound.

Nujabes

He may have died in 2010 but DJ Nujabes’ soulful, intricate mixes and melodies live on. The Japanese producer was known to blend jazz, hip hop and electronic beats. His wikipedia entry affirms that this combination of genres he melded together in surprising ways creates a mellow and nostalgic sound that became his signature . I wholeheartedly agree with this assertion. This musical evocation of melancholy seems to permeate each of his pieces, even the more upbeat ones.

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