If you’re new to Rich Medina and his art of selecting, you are in for a serious treat. Card carrying member of both the Rock Steady Crew and the Universal Zulu Nation, producer, modern griot and one of the finest DJs on the planet, Rich keeps it moving. His sets can wander through hip-hop, house, soul, afrobeat, funk, breaks and dance classics, selected and spun without rush or hype, just good times with sensitivity and intelligence lightly sprinkled into the mix.
As he says so himself, one of his proudest achievements has been the Jump ‘n’ Funk parties, North America’s original afrobeat night. Inspired by one of the most important figures in music, the militant Prince of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the parties have run for over 15 years and are widely acknowledged to be one of the key drivers of the afrobeat explosion across the globe with parties in South Africa, Europe and the Far East alongside his endless travels across the US.
‘Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s music is one of the last bastions of in-your-face, aggressive, anti-government vocabulary in music..so, to be a black man who considers himself educated and cosmopolitan, that functions in the arts, I feel like I owe it to my peers, my fans and my friends, to represent what that means and to represent that voice!’
BBE Records seem the perfect fit for this outstanding selection of urgent and funky afrobeat inspired tracks. BBE have never put a foot wrong when it comes to the art of the compilation and this sits high on their already overloaded shelves.
Fela Kuti’s inner circle is naturally well represented, with full length songs by the man himself, his Master Drummer (and of equal importance in the afrobeat story), Tony Allen, and a couple of scorchers from his son Seun. Fela and Tony Allen are obviously the source but Rich has been careful to demonstrate the influence of the musical form on other genres with a beautifully loose R’n’B/Broken Funk jam produced by himself called ‘Too Much’, and superb house cuts by Atjazz, Mojo Project and River Ocean. Bruk flavoured tracks by Wale Oyejide sit comfortably alongside Fela contemporaries like the Original Nairobi Afro Band, Scandinavian soul-jazz-funkateers Damn!, NYC’s Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and the Ethiopian-centric vibes of Dutch collective Jungle By Night.
‘I didn’t want Jump ‘n’ Funk to be Fela-centric, consisting purely of pre-1980 classics. I wanted to open up the pallette. This music has reached across generations, races, languages and continents. It has created a community of people trying to make a living while engaging with a difficult agenda.’
You know you’ve done justice to the memory of Fela and afrobeat when the artwork is done by none other than Lemi Ghariokwu, the creator of twenty six of Fela’s iconic album covers!
Jump in...you won’t regret it
Out on BBE end of May 2016
Words by Ex-Friendly