Frustrated by the blanket term “World Music” producer, DJ and Metronomy bassist Olugbenga Adelekan created his own Omniverse – a conceptual place to celebrate underground music from all over the world that didn’t fit neatly into people’s boxes marked “World”, “Afro beat” or any other lazy description.
Here, we premiere the first ever of a monthly series of Omniverse mixtapes which showcase Olugbenga’s influences, listening habits and recommendations, with a specific emphasis on African music (but maybe not as you know it).
In a demonstration of the thought-process behind the mix, and to give an insight into how these tracks interplay with his own story, Olu his written this article to accompany the mix:
I’m from Nigeria. I grew up there and I left when I was sixteen. I keep my ear pointed homeward, though, and every month I hear lots of really exciting things coming from Nigeria and the whole African continent. Travelling all over the world DJing and playing bass guitar with Metronomy also gives me an amazing opportunity to meet people who recommend things. I try and reflect all of this in my DJ sets.
One of those recommendations was Aero Manyelo and I think he is one of the most exciting club music producers in the world. He does such interesting, unexpected things with the structures of his tracks. I don’t know him, but I get a sense of real personality from his music. That’s what I think ties the best electronic music with music made in other, older-fashioned ways: great musicians master their medium to a point where they can communicate some personality through their music. This is true whether you’re Mozart or Don Jazzy.
I’ve put P Square in my mixes before. It seems like every few months they put out another sizzler of a tune. I guess that’s why the twin brothers are part of the vanguard of Nigerian pop music, the Afrobeats movement that has swept across the whole world in the last decade. They do upbeat, poppy club bangers just as well as any artists anywhere. I couldn’t get Shekini out of my head when I first heard it and I challenge to listen to it without involuntarily breaking into a little dance.
The same goes for Shoki, the Lil’ Kesh track that sparked a new dance craze and ruled the clubs in Nigeria in 2014. It’s a groove that has been much-imitated and the song itself has been remixed and remixed again endlessly. My favourite version is the one with a few of the first ladies’ of Nigerian pop trading verses.
Tchobari and Fouma System have their music distributed by the excellent, Ghanaian-based label Akwaaba (who also do Aero Manyelo). I stumbled across the Akwaaba site a few months ago and then remembered that when I was in Mali back in 2013 for Africa Express, a couple of people had mentioned the label to me. Their release history is an absolute treasure trove and runs the gamut of African music from traditional to literally-just-made-last-week cutting-edge.
Another accident brought me to the DJ Snake remix of Stromae… Metronomy had just come offstage at a festival somewhere in Europe. I knew Stromae was headlining another stage and could hear this crazy song booming in the distance. Somehow I had never heard Humain A L’eu before. I asked a friend for the title of the song and when I googled it the DJ Snake remix was one of the things I found. It’s been in my DJ set for almost a year now. Some of my most gleeful moments in the DJ booth have come when playing this track.
I’m a big fan of Sarkodie. I think he’s one of the best rappers on the planet. Most rappers struggle to be good in one language. Sarkodie raps in three: Twi, Pidgin English and English. Often all in the same verse. He switches up his flow, has great hooks and has a voice that sounds great on the mic. I like him so much that he’s in the mix twice, once on his own song and then on my R2Bees remix.
I open this mix with a track called Till All Are One. I suppose this sums up my musical mission. When I began DJing and remixing, I thought perhaps I would have to pick one or two genres to work in, and that would determine the type of stuff I would play out. House music, dubstep, footwork, hiphop, afrobeats. The trouble is that I love the music from all those genres and many more. And in 2015 I certainly don’t feel the need to choose. So here it is. From across the universe, from me to you. Enjoy!
Aero Manyelo – Shughuti
P Square – Shekini
Zeez ft. Olamide – Atewo
Lil Kesh ft. Chidinma, Eva & Cynthia Morgan – Shoki
Fouma System – Avertissement
Tchobari – Ta Bonito
Stromae – Humain A L’eau (DJ Snake Remix)
Beyonce – 7 11 (OLUGBENGA CARDIAC PERCUSSION EDIT)
Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher (OLUGBENGA EDIT)
Sarkodie – Illuminati
Aphex Twin – piano un10 it happened / Mojeed – Appreciation (skit)
R2Bees ft. Sarkodie & Nana Boroo – Agyeeeii (OLUGBENGA PURRP EDIT)
For more from Olugbenga, check out his remix of Laura Doggett’s single “Into the Glass” below.