London Mixtape (1,2,3)

Two and a half months ago, Jenny and I packed up the last of our life in Brooklyn, and set sail for London. It’s been great to be out of New York. Each day I feel better, and more myself. We’ve been relaxing, indulging ourselves in thought, wandering the city, going to markets, seeing old friends, eating wonderful food, reading, writing, and digging for records.

When I left London two years ago, I found myself moving back to a city I had been happy to leave eight years prior. As I packed up my flat in Clapton, the scene felt familiar. I was once again leaving a landscape where I was increasingly unwelcome. It was a dark moment. I was lucky to have the love of a beautiful woman protecting me from its blackest depths. The Tories had gotten in, and with a gleeful sociopathy, had set out to destroy everything that I love about the society within which I had found a home – culture, the support for the arts, diversity, the NHS, access to social mobility and education. The list goes on and on. Rents were rising, communities were breaking, and many flats, including my own, were being sold out from beneath their tenants. Profit was king, with no regard for consequence. It felt like a good moment to go – particularly with Jenny’s open arms beckoning from New York. London was, and continues to be, increasingly difficult for those of us who would rather not live in wage slavery – who simply want to exist according to our own terms, without fear, greed and ambition. Who would rather give than take. After two years of absence, London seems harsher. Countless friends have been pushed from their neighborhoods, into the outer zones – the city separating them from those they love. Anyone holding their ground, without crippling themselves with a mortgage, lives in a state of anxiety – knowing it’s only a matter of time.

Yet London, and its thriving diversity, remains. The luxury flats, stomping their way across the city, haven’t managed to smother everything in their wake. The weeds survive… at least for now. We all know the end is coming. The black cloud of Late-Capitalism. In time, it will all be scorched earth, concrete, sanitized space, and generic corporate high streets. The city as I know it is dying. I’m glad I returned to it when I have. I’m grateful that Jenny has gotten to know its remaining fragments. That I’ve gotten to see her eyes light up as she drifted through the Ridley Road and Brixton markets. I’m happy to have been reminded of how wonderful life in this city can be. Of why I fell in love with it in the first place. Of the wonderful friendships I have here, even if they are no longer at arms reach.

Sadly, it is time to go again. When we embarked on this phase of our journey, we knew knew our stay in London would be brief. We didn’t expect it to be so hard to say goodbye. In a week we will board a plane, and put ourselves back in the wind. When we left New York, the conceit was simple. We were changing the terms, breaking the mold of our own lives, and embarking on an adventure that would last for as long as we could sustain it. As our time in London winds down, we begin again with the same ideal. The bulk of December will be spent between New York, Chicago and a sleepy surfing community in Florida – seeing friends and family, before boarding a one way flight to Mexico City. We have no idea what is in store for us, what life will bring, or even how long we will stay. It might be a month, it might be six – perhaps we’ll find a way to stay longer. We are free and blind for as long as it lasts.

As I packed the records bought during my two years in New York, I decided to cool it for a while. We’re traveling and living cheap, records are a hard fit in that equation. I’ve been failing miserably. In the two and a half months we’ve been in London, I’ve picked up a hefty stack of wonderful things. As I prepared them for the long dark silence of my storage unit, I decided to make a few more mixes to share with people. I buy in spurts dictated by what I find, and what I am in the mood to hear. Though I’ve bought a decent amount of soul, funk, disco and Indian Classical in the past months, the bulk of what I have bought is from Africa. These three mixes are largely pulled from these albums, and are restricted to things I have bought during this period. Almost everything is an original pressing, and as many of you will know, records rarely leave Africa in great condition. There’s some crackle and pop. I hope you enjoy what you hear, and in these troubled times, as these voices reach your ears, I hope you will take each of these musicians into your heart. Many of their countries are in the midst of war and atrocity, where this joy and music has fallen silent.

 

 

1.Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes ‎ – Ekassa #28 (Nigeria)
2. The Ice Cream – Ice Cream Funk (Nigeria)
3. John Ndichu – Cuca Wa Gakunga (Kenya)
4. Fabomo Edoleyi And His Ugho Sound Makers ‎– Iyerieki (Nigeria)
5. Akaba Man & The Nigie Rokets – Obo (Nigeria)
6. C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7 ‎– Asafo Beesuon (Ghana)
7. John Gibbs And The U.S. Steel Orchestra – Street Cries (Trinidad)
8. Shadow- Keep on Wailing (Trinidad)
9. Peret – La Fiesta Es Para Feos (Spain)
10. Escola De Samba Da Cidade Ensaio Em “Hi-Fi” (Brasil)
11. Rift Valley Brothers ‎– Niaturukia (Kenya)
12. Tabu Ley & Orchestre Afrisa L’International ‎– Kaful Mayay (Zaire)
13. Eddie Hooper & Storm – Pass it On (Guyana)

 

1. Solisoli du Congo – Muana Ya Lycee (Congo)
2. Sam Kimachia – Kuga Ti Gwika (Kenya)
3. William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb (Nigeria)
4. Nigerian Police Band – Better Days are Coming (Nigeria)
5. Rift Valley Bothers – Irimu Ria Nyambugi (Kenya)
6. Ramone – Nouveau Venu Dans L’Endroit ( Madagascar)
7. Orchestra Baobab – Kelen Ati Leen (Senegal)
8. Boussouar Magnaoui – Haray Haray (Algeria)
9. I. K. Dairo and His Blue Spots – Alala Lulu Alala (Nigeria)
10. Idir – A Vava Inou Va (Algeria)
11. Ozo – Anambra (UK)

 

1. Tony Grey & The Black Kings – Chukwa Dube Ayi (Nigeria)
2. Kikurumo Boys – Njeri (Kenya)
3. Sir Shina Adewale & His Super Stars International – Eyo ma Wa (Nigeria)
4. Stanislas Tohan – Africa (Benin)
5. William Onyeabor – Why Go to War (Nigeria)
6. Kassav – Lague Moin (France)
7. The Ice Cream – I’ll Always Love You (Nigeria)
8. John Ndichu & His Group – Wangari (Kenya)
9. Amagugu – Bekedodeni (Kenya)
10. Moussa Doumbia – Keleya (Senegal)
11. Robert Loyson – Typical Cete On Cerf Volant (Guadeloupe)
12. K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas – Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awa (Ghana)
13. Johnny Colon & His Orchestra – Ya -Yi-Ki (USA)
14. Amagugu – Ubecozulu (Kenya)
15. The Wings – We’ll Get Home (Nigeria)
16. City Boys International – Obere (Ghana)

 

-Bradford Bailey

 

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