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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Cross-posted at Mind Grapes

I don’t know that much about South African music, or about jazz, so I’m not going to embarrass myself by trying to drop some knowledge about how Hugh Masekela is the greatest jazzist ever born on the Dark Continent. What I do know about, is being mellow as fuck, so I feel qualified to say: I Am Not Afraid is the raddest, mellowest album from the year 1974, which was a pretty mellow year, all things considered, and it might be the mellowest album of all time.

There’s a temptation with shit like this to be all, oh, life, in Africa, is so relaxed, and authentic, and, like, sunny, all the time, that obviously, Africans would just make music that sounds like that. And I am tempted! But the deal is—South Africa was not, um, a particularly mellow place in the 1970s, or really, any time at all, for black folks especially. And Hugh is not an apolitical dude, for what it’s worth. But. But. I Am Not Afraid is 100% mellow, beautiful and relaxed, with grooves aplenty; its an album that goes everywhere an nowhere, the musical equivalent of bullshitting over brunch on a Sunday afternoon. I love this album, unreservedly, and someday I’ll write 8,000 words about it, but right now I recommend you pack a bowl and kick it with “In the Market Place,” which is about being in a market place, I think.

Also, in case you're interested, here's an Oscars write-up I did over at my site Mind Grapes. I laugh, I cry, I call Danny Boyle Scottish, the internet gets mad at me. What a life!

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