This past October was the Dutty Artz crew’s 6 year anniversary, so we decided to celebrate by releasing a compilation in the form of a series of four free geographically-oriented EPs with accompanying DJ mixes. The final edition has Africa as its loose geographic focus (even though we’ve already dipped into Africa with our What Edward Said EP), and is a collection of songs that I am very proud to share with the world. The other EPs were only available to download for those who signed up for the Dutty Artz mailing list, but in case you missed them, the entire compilation will go on sale in mid-December.
Since Africa is a Country has become an integral outlet for myself, and for African thought in general, I thought it would be good to co-present the EP here, offering it as a gift to Africa is a Country readers. So, for a limited time you can download the L’Afrique Est Un Pays EP by liking the Africa is a Country Facebook page!
Dutty Artz is a crew of artists and creators, but we are also very concerned with thinking about and engaging with arts in new ways that challenge dominant social norms and industry standards. So, it makes sense that the presentation of the EPs evoke such ground breaking and intellectually challenging literary giants as Edward Said, Paul Gilroy, and Eduardo Galeano. The literary theme also extends to the fourth EP, taking a deeper connection, as Binyavanga Wainaina opens the album, talking about the first time he met Chinua Achebe (the cover borrows the artwork from the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart).
Kicking off from that framing we land in Queens, New York, where Nigerian-American rapper Kev skillfully depicts life growing up as a “westernized African.” I was introduced to Kev after receiving a tweet from his manager, and instantly thought to include him on the project. The song “Leave Me Alone” resonated for me, especially in the wake of the Afropolitan debate that has arisen in recent years. While these days I tend to shy away from debates about identity politics, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Kev’s claims of identity equality, because he introduces it in such a matter of fact way. A strong voice fighting against dominant ideas of Africa continues to emerge, especially from the fringes of the contemporary global city.
The rest of these songs deal with these same issues of definition and expansion, albeit in more abstract ways. I turn in a track inspired by Janka Nabay’s rallying cry for all Africans to love their own culture, introducing the world to my definition of Bubu Crunk. Fourth in line, my Dutty Artz compatriots introduce a musical experiment aimed at tracing and rearranging the cultural lines that criss-cross the Atlantic. And finally, the French Kudurista Frédéric Galliano is back, with a trusty club banger – primed for the naughtiest part of the night!
To accompany the EP I enlisted Brooklyn’s Black Atlantic Techno specialist Lamin Fofana to help me construct a mix inspired by the theme. The songs he both selected make for a great deep listening experience, good for zoning out while working, philosophizing about global African society, or just riding a bus or a train. It’s permanently available for download so you can take it to whatever occasion you see fit, enjoy!