Lebanese-French rapper Clotaire K.
For those few dead-enders out there who still think rap isn’t music, a sampling of global hip-hop should be instructive. Without the (often idiotic) meaning of the words to distract us, we can listen to the cadences and rhythms of the vocals as pure music — percussive, melodic, emotionally expressive, individual. Perhaps even more remarkable is the way each of these artists transforms what is ostensibly an American musical genre and infuses it with the character of his or her own country.
Mexican group Control Machete is probably the best known of the rappers I’ve posted today, having been featured in the Amores Perros soundtrack and in a Superbowl ad for Levi’s.
Clotaire K is of Lebanese and Egyptian parentage and raps in English, French and Arabic, blending the sounds of Arabic orchestral pop with the fierce mid-range rhythms of gangsta rap. I discovered his music in an Arabic music shop in Carroll Gardens, and I don’t know much more about him.
Even harder to get a fix on is baile funk, the emerging sound of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, which have been thrumming with music at least since the days of Black Orpheus. The difference now is that it has become cheaper to use computers and sampling than to put together an acoustic band. Baile funk reached the ears of American hipsters in 2004, with the release of M.I.A. and Diplo’s Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape. Today’s baile funk track appears on that tape, in modified form. You can find scads more of the stuff at Funky Do Morro.
Finally, we’ve got a video from Drunken Tiger, the group credited with bringing hip-hop to Korea. As Korean-Americans, they blend Korean and English lyrics, which has become common practice for Korean pop stars. The video includes some wonderful shots from the movie Show, Show, Show depicting Korean life from the 1970s, before shiny had replaced shoddy, when Korea was known for shipbuilding and military dictatorship rather than animation and very slim cellphones.