In a new series in E&M’s Heart, we speak to young, creative Europeans and their musical inspirations, passions and interests of the moment. Through exposing creative minds’ musical and artistic recommendations – to the E&M reader’s delight – this series also aims to shed light on the transnational nature of music and cultural products more generally. This issue, we turn to Sam Hassan – young British musician and his musical interests of the moment spanning across Europe and beyond. Find out about transnational musical influence, current trends and more!
Boss Belly – Enemies (UK)
This is an artist from an era of UK urban music that was integral in introducing me to different types of UK ‘hood’ music, at a time when I was focused on Grime. This era, defined by people like Sneakbo and Ard Adz, set the stage for the current crop of UK artists who teeter ambiguously between Jamaican Dancehall and Afrobeat influences, J Hus and Kojo Funds being notable examples. Whilst released more recently, this song is a throwback to that era (2008-12) which saw few melodic or autotuned vocals over Dancehall beats, with more aggressive, street themes and a raw vocal delivery. These were the first UK artists to flow comfortably on 100bpm beats and incorporate their natural accent confidently and stylishly.
Mix-L x Yus – Mujo Cover (UK)
This song comes from the current Afrobeat strain in UK music. Afrobeat is an incredibly diverse genre which draws on numerous stylistic and influences and has multiple interpretations across the world, as evidenced in this case with a UK take on it. London is a hub of Afrobeat music owing to the presence of its significant African diaspora and second generation Africans who are translating their British experience into music that they are culturally familiar with. To the uninitiated (I would include myself here), this is perhaps most obvious with the use of African dialects and phrases in vocals. Other artists involving themselves in these trends are the aforementioned J Hus and Kojo Fundz, plus Mist and Mostack. The catchy, pretty melodies in this song is something I love about this style of UK music. These two songs, both within the same cultural sphere of music are indicative of how fluid and expansive the MLE dialect of London is, and have influenced the idiolects of myself and surely other listeners to be familiar with and appreciative of such diverse language.
4KEUS – O’Kartier C’est La Hess (France)
Perhaps it is natural to be enamoured with the music of where you grew up, especially if there is a thriving music scene. This is certainly what happened with me. Seeing the growth and fusion of different styles in the UK, with artists being so creative, confident and unique, I became very UK-centric in my musical outlook. I credited UK artists with being able to utilise different styles whilst keeping an authentic UK feel, and my pride spilled over into a little bit of arrogance. 4keus gang were in fact one of the first artists (in this case French) that made me realise this had been happening all over Europe, with styles I had never even encountered. Evidently ground-breaking music like this is a natural product of culture evolving and meeting with other ones. Now, I can say I actually like the flowing and melodic French vocal style more than the UK!
DJ BBoy – KARANGANHADA (Portugal/ France)
Months ago, I would hear these kinds of instrumentals in mixes, and was blown away by the percussion and rhythms, so perfectly put together and reminiscent of more technical Afrobeat music. The music had a real club feel too, with booming basses and 808’s, brasses and cool vocal samples. Having my current musical outlook, especially in regards to the music I make, I really enjoy listening to such elements; it sounded really cutting edge. Again, it was nigh on impossible to find the music due to its fluid genre, currently termed ‘Afro-House.’ I searched things in Google like ‘fast afrobeat’ or ‘modern afrobeat,’ and was unsurprisingly not successful. Artist names are much more helpful, and luckily a friend of mine turned me on to this artist, DJBBoy. Currently it’s the only artist I know!
Cover photo: Painting: doctorho (Flickr) Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0