Vuvuzela… the Sound of Africa
Naomi Aptowitzer is an MC who has performed and written with chart-topping acts such as Drizabone, Peter Andre and The Roots but, has just written her best composition to date… a song entitled ‘Vuvuzela’ that encompasses a vibrant mix of African Hi-life, Soca and topped with the inimitable sounds of Hip-hop in the form of simple, informative and catchy Rapping. The song was inspired by the noise of the Vuvuzela buzzing through the TV screens during the Football World Cup in South Africa. “People started hating the Vuvuzela. Television presenters would complain about the noise. Instruments have been played in UK stands for years, even the rattle which to my ears was far more annoying, sat comfortably in the British football grounds, yet when an instrument from Africa is used there is an instant objection even to the extent that the Vuvuzela has since been completely banned from nearly all Premier League club stadiums on the grounds of Health & Safety or it may be ‘used as a weapon’. These are just excuses and it’s been banned despite a recent survey which concluded that 60% of supporters wanted to use them”.
Growing up in West London, MC Ni listened to varying sounds from Fela Kuti to Mozart. Her mixed race identity has become a symbol of what can be achieved by challenging ignorance so promoting cultural exchange came naturally to her. “Music is the best means through which to spread positive messages to large numbers of people and what better way to do that than by praising the inventions and adaptations at home, on the streets and homes in Africa”. After taking time out to study a Science Degree and follow up with a Masters in Communications & Technology, Ni felt the calling back to her musical roots was too strong to ignore. “It was the lack of mainstream commercial music with a message that led me to start writing again. Every song out there had to fit into a specific mould, so every song ended up sounding the same. I wanted to show my diversity, drawing inspiration from my Calypso heritage in Dominica and combining it with the vibrant, upbeat guitar rhythms of Congo and Mali. As a lyricist, it was easy to switch my style to fit into any genre”.
After a successful Rap career in the nineties, MC Ni decided to return to music in 2010. As a writer, she takes pride in her work. She not only writes and performs her own words but also produces her music. Although she confesses that she can’t play an instrument, it hasn’t hindered her in expressing the type of rhythm, notes or song she wants to hear. “I work in collaboration with musicians and I’ve written a lot of my recent material with guitarist Theo Calliste who is a long time friend. He also plays on ‘Vuvuzela’ and as a producer, it’s my job to get the best out of him then keep the parts I like. Making a track is like cooking but without a recipe book... just the utensils, some turn out tasty, others you have to dash in the bin”! This is MC Ni’s third release and her first out of the Zipee Music stable. Zipee Inc is her own invention, founded when both she and her son developed asthma. Zipee Bikes (an electric bike company) was set up in 2006 to help reduce car pollution.
Recent times spent in Politics showed Ni the need to invest in young people’s future. “We must not turn our backs on those in the world who are suffering. When you live in the West, you have luxuries that those in others parts of the world are not so fortunate to have. Free education is taken for granted. I want to help make a difference in places that have been deliberately kept down with enforced poverty, lack of job opportunities and unfair land rights”. Ni hopes to reach South Africa with her tribute to the musical instrument that was called the thirteenth man on the pitch for the South African football team ‘bafana bafana’. “If I can attach a sense of celebration to the Vuvuzela, more people will embrace the musical instrument which, in the same way the bugle does, plays octaves in b flat”.
WE ARE AFRICANS
JJC Skillz & Co
There is no stopping the ‘We Are Africans’ movement. Nigerian-born, London-based songwriter / rapper / singer / music and video producer, JJC (aka Skillz) spent December 2009 and January 2010 in Lagos in order to take the movement back to the Motherland. And, the result is here: an amazing new Nigerian version of ‘We Are Africans’ featuring Femi Kuti, Dagrin, Eldee, DJ Zeez, Kel, Ay.com, Moe Money and Ragga Remi.
Not only did JJC record the song in Lagos, a video was also shot there by none other than Big Boyz Entertainment, the production company headed by JJC and Moe Money, that is fast emerging as a real powerhouse for quality and innovative videos (their production cache includes ‘Fokasibe’ and ’Bobbee FC’ by DJ Zeez, ‘Karmakazee’ and ‘Takerewa’ by Olu Maintain featuring Kentro Family, ‘Omo 2 Sexy’ by Justina, ‘Morile’ by Bouqui, ‘Pu’yanga’ by Tilla Man & Dola Billz, 'Shake’ by DK, ‘Why’ by Jibola, ‘Anyhow’ by Shakar El Swagga and many more). The new video will be on your TV screens very soon.
Serious but, also fun, tongue-in-cheek and wildly infectious, ‘We Are Africans’ is an anthem - in fact, it can be labelled as the national anthem for the United States of Africa. It is a song for all Africans - from the Motherland and from all parts of the Diaspora - which combines the sentiments of pride, unity and positivity. It is also the perfect soundtrack for 2010, a year of huge importance for Africa: The world will be watching when the World Cup Games take place in South Africa and 17 African nations (including Africa’s giant Nigeria) will be celebrating 50 years of independence.
The phenomenal response to ‘We Are Africans’ has led to various remixes having been recorded in London including the ‘Africa On Your Street’ remix featuring Tilla Man, Dola Billz, Millaz, Mo Eazy, Magnum and many more as well as a Funky House remix featuring award-winning UK-based Ghanaian Rapper Sway. And the Movement will continue…