Ahead of Africa Oyé Festival this weekend Artistic Director Paul Duhaney selects his ten favourite tracks and albums to get you in the festival spirit
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Natural Mystic [Exodus, 1977]
I could have chosen umpteen Marley tracks, but I absolutely love the intro to this one as it's a real creeper and when the bass line kicks in, it's at full volume. It’s a thing of beauty! Add King Bob’s majestic vocals, some naughty guitar rifts and you have the perfect rocksteady reggae track.
Chic – I Want Your Love [C'est Chic, 1978]
This one is lucky to make the list, but it was the first record I ever owned so although it is not the greatest track I own, it means so much to me on a personal level. It was also the beginning of a wonderful journey into becoming a vinyl junkie. It was bought from and owned from a stall in Walthamstow market which sold 12 inch vinyl imports from the US and Jamaica, so I switched it up between the two genres and spent much of my first pay packets and hard-earned money for the next 30 years on vinyl – true stories!
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly [2015, Interscope]
A real masterpiece from my now favourite ever rap artist (a big statement!). What Kendrick creates is as much like art as it is music, and this album encapsulates that. Another storyboard album with powerful tracks like The Blacker The Berry, to tracks featuring pure unadulterated funk! The positive things Kendrick does for hip-hop and Compton also make him a real hero to me.
Steely Dan – Black Cow [Aja, 1977]
I love this track and I love Steely Dan too. A great intro which has been sampled on many times; great musicianship, fantastic lyrics and a cheeky little bass line too; what more can a man want?
Dr. Dre – 2001 [1999, Aftermath]
I could have chosen either Chronic album, but this one just pips the original. Lots of guest appearances, from the likes of Eminem on Forgot About Dre and Snoop Dogg on Bitch Niggaz. It has great humour throughout to go along with the bass-driven bangers and signature Dre keyboards. There are not many better hip-hop albums than the Chronic 2001-1-1-1-1 (repeat to fade).
Prince – Sign 'O’ the Times [1987, Paisley Park]
I was fortunate enough to see Prince perform live on numerous occasions, and it was always an amazing experience. I love this album like Jamaican cooked food, and The Ballad of Dorothy Parker is the most underrated Prince track ever made. Sign 'O' the Times is one of those seminal tracks, but I do also like the lesser known tracks like Slow Love. It's another album I played (and still play) constantly, and showcases every talent the little genius possessed.
The Beatles – A Day In The Life [Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967]
My dad had a box of 45rpm single records when we were growing up, with artists from the '50s through to the '60s, like Bobby V, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, The Animals, The Stones, Jimi, Elvis and then the Motown stuff like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, but my favourites were The Beatles for some reason. I must have had an affinity with Liverpool even at that tender age.
I remember playing them and learning all the words, but it wasn’t until the '80s that I touched base with the Beatles again when I heard Sgt. Pepper's on repeat (about 20 years too late) in a shop I worked in and fell in love with the song-writing on A Day In The Life, which is still my favourite Beatles track. As you can see from my list, I do like an album where you don’t have to skip any tracks – it's like a good story – and this album definitely falls into that category.
Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band – Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band [Strut Records, 2015]
Pat Thomas sounds like he should be from North Wales, but he is actually a Ghanaian musician and his highlife music is infectious. This album flows gloriously from start to finish, and is a must for lovers of African grooves. I saw him and the Area Band perform this album twice live and it's just as good if not better than the record!
Nas and Damian Marley – Patience [Distant Relatives, 2010]
A brilliant, poignant song which kind of went under the radar, but it had the sort of impact that Sign 'O' The Times by Prince had on me when I first heard it. The way both artists bounce off of each other during the verse swapping is brilliant and the sample is fantastic, one of my all time faves!
Massive Attack – Blue Lines [1991, Virgin]
Another album that I’ve rinsed over the years – this reminds me of my raving days although it's not raving music. It was the album you played after the club, and was both hypnotic and fresh compared to anything around at the time. Massive Attack like Soul II Soul before them (another one I missed!) were trendsetters and artists that I aspired to be – both on and off the decks!