Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Work? No way

I am still in a very summery mood and, with the weather now cooperating, I've got two albums currently competing for the title of my "summer album"--not necessarily the summer's best album, but the one that just feels like summer, that's perfect for having on while you're doing whatever. The latest release by the Tough Alliance is putting up a good fight and may win out in the long run (more about them in the future; in the meantime, check out thoughts about the lead single on Worrapolava or #1 Hits From Another Planet--in general, blippy catchy pop from Sweden that is very impressive), but for the moment, Same Difference is holding onto the title.

It frustrates me that if I walk into a music store around here and head over to the international section, the only music I'd find from most countries is "traditional" or "folk" music, and that's especially true for South Africa. I'm certainly not condemning that sort of music--everyone has their own taste--but that's such a poor reflection of the actual music scenes of these countries. Without a greater range of music being portrayed, people are missing out on a lot and a certain image of countries is definitely being portrayed. Given American radio's lack of friendliness towards non-English language tracks, Same Difference would probably never have stood a chance at mainstream radio success, but if there was justice in the world, some of these songs should have been international hits.

I am definitely not an expert on South African music, so please correct me if any of this is wrong. Mandoza is one of South Africa's leading kwaito stars (kwaito is a type of music that I instinctively want to say is the South African version of hip-hop or rap, but that's not right, as there is rap there; picture rap with dance or house beats and strong percussion, and you're a little closer) while Danny K is--well, I guess you could say he's an R&B singer, though he can be more pop or more hip hop influenced (though he's not a rapper) depending on the song. Both are well-established artists in the own right, but 2004 found them teaming up to release Same Difference, an album I'm fulling prepared for no one else to enjoy but that I'm loving. Though I still maintain that it has songs that should have been hits outside of South Africa (or outside of Africa--I'm not sure how it did in other African countries), for the pop fan, your enjoyment of the album overall will probably be affected by your opinion of Mandoza's singing (or speaking). It's gruff, rap-like, and not in English. For my own preferences, I'd probably cut down on some of his more extended parts, but he's vitally important to this album--he provides a nice crunch here and, without the sort of music he brings to the table, many of these songs wouldn't really stick for me.

I was fully expecting myself to fall for one of the albums dance hall tracks, but the songs I've found myself returning to most are the more laid-back ones. They are such perfect summer songs--"breezy" is just about the perfect word for them, but they're not free-floating, instead being brought back down to Earth by the beats Mandoza brings. There are so many great songs on Same Difference--if I had a section listing my music idols, this album would've elevated Danny K and Mandoza, working as a team, into that list.

I know some people will say this is R&B (or whatever genre of music you want to call it) for people who don't listen to or don't like R&B, but, though with my background I can't address that, 1.) there's nothing wrong with appealing to new audiences, and 2.) I don't care. I don't care if this doesn't have hardcore kwaito or is a shameless attempt at crossover market success--it works, bringing the best of both singers' worlds together and creating something that I'm probably far more likely to enjoy than either of their solo works.

The song I'm posting was chosen partly because it's one of my favorite songs on the album, but also because the back-and-forth between Danny K and Mandoza, who's basically doing quick answer-backs for most of the song, might be more likely to appeal to people who don't want to hear extended stretches of rapping (there is a rap break, but it's got Danny K's interjections in it). The song is so breezy and so summery, though, and not just in the title--it makes me want to hop in a car and drive to the beach with this song--really, the whole album--soundtracking my drive.


You can buy Mandoza and Danny K's album Same Difference here (they can take a long time to ship the item, but once it's shipped it doesn't take long to arrive and the shipping is the cheapest I've found for South African music). sells it as well. Though it is not an album for everyone (it does feel very mainstream, which is a good thing, but it's distinctive), I very much recommend it--it is just about the perfect summer album. If you want to hear more from it before buying, this site has minute long clips of each of the songs. Plus, I love their logo:

I'm not sure why I love it so much, but I do.

Next up: probably Måns.


Jamie said...

It's almost as good as the Infernal logo.

Poster Girl said...

More popstars need little cartoon logos for themselves!

Speaking of Infernal, I really need to buy their album, but there are so many versions of it out there I have no idea which one to get.

JoXxe said...

hey! please, i've been looking for the danny k's cd's (mandoza + danny k album & danny k album debut), Can you upload the cds to mediafire or any free server, please?