Two years ago, I wrote a piece for Souciant about the end of a well-intentioned but otherwise disastrous experiment carried out by the Wu-Tang Clan. At that time, the world renowned rap group was poised to buck virtually every commercial trend in the history of the music industry by releasing just one copy of its top-secret double album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. (More…)

Last year, the world was treated to an unexpected announcement from one of the most famous acts in hip hop. The Wu-Tang Clan revealed that it had secretly recorded a massive 31-track album that supposedly brought the band back to its roots and the raw, rugged, ominous sounds that made its debut, Enter the 36 Chambers, an instant classic upon its release in 1993. (More…)

One can break down Seattle hip-hop into four main movements. The first begins in the early ’80s and concludes in 1993, following Sir Mix-a-Lot’s apotheosis and subsequent canonization in hip-hop. The second is between 1994 and 2004, and coincides with the gentrification of the Central District (a transition best captured by Central Intelligence’s 2001’s “Real Estate”). (More…)

The Arab Spring seems like a century ago. Starting in late 2010, there was every reason to believe that it would make the Middle East synonymous with social democracy. With the exception of its most fearful critics, no one could have predicted that it would dissolve into the bloodbath currently engulfing Syria and its neighbors. (More…)

Blame it on Pussy Riot. Thus far, the music has been a disappointment. The Ukraine, after all, is in decline. With no affluence to speak of, compared to Putin’s oil-rich Russia, culture, of the export variety, is nowhere to be found. You’d have to speak Ukrainian, (or Russian) to detect any national soundtrack, revolutionary, or otherwise, worth listening to. (More…)

Pussy Riot was just the tip of the iceberg. That is, for those who took the band’s notoriety as being an introduction to Russian pop. For most Western fans, however, that was it. The country’s rich music scene would otherwise remain invisible. Particularly those confined to the Federation’s margins, and its Diasporic representatives, who record their work for the migrant communities, to little notice, in their host countries. (More…)

Besides their release this year in beautifully packaged vinyl editions, and use of Mediterranean field recordings, Mutamassik’s album Rekkez, and Savage Republic’s Varvakios LP, don’t seem to have a lot in common. However, both come from an aesthetic of fatalistic, yet rebellious, sonic energy, fuelled by an urgency to burst into a future weighed down by ancient history. (More…)

“Epic Salutations,” the seductive opening track on Murs’ new album Love and Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation ends with what sounds like a mission statement: “Hard core rap about nothing at all.” But the reality of this fine hip-hop record is far more complex. (More…)

“I started off rapping for people just like myself, people who were in awe of wealth and flash. It was a conversation between me and them. But now most of those who buy my records are listening in on others’ conversation. They are the aural equivalent of voyeurs, thrilled at this crazy world that has nothing to do with their experience.” -Ice-T (More…)

He might as well have been a hip hop star. Not just any, but the kind once revered for dispensing with ‘conscious‘ knowledge,  like Public Enemy. Who would have ever consigned such a fate to a 94 year-old French Holocaust survivor, the title of whose best-selling book graces this mural, together with an image of the author. (More…)

You’d be forgiven for believing that Pavarotti is Italy’s only musician. Sadly, the late opera singer is the only artist to achieve household name status outside the country since the 1970s. Press any further, and even amongst the cognoscenti, their knowledge will be limited to film composers such as Ennio Morricone. Or, on a good day, Italo Disco. Once popular punk bands, like Raw Power? Few will recognize them. (More…)

You can’t get to know a place without knowing what the folks in town listen to. The best way to do that is to keep your eye out for gig flyers. In all likelihood, the shows have already taken place. Still, what you’re left with is, at best, a testimony to local music, at worst, the work of an overzealous label intern. (More…)