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Africantrumpet-The voice of Africans THE BRONXREPORT is Brought To You From Fordham University, Courtesy The Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) By Dr. Mark Naison Akua Naru and The Dig Flow Band Rock Fordham University


demic about her perform- ance.


Akua Naru makes you want


to stand and shout and leap in the air,


especially with a live band, because she turns her voice into a percussion


instrument that creates beats that are compulsively danceable.. This is


During the last week of September, Fordham University was the site of two performances and a lecture by one of the most innova- tive and inspiring hip hop artists in today’s global music scene- Akua Naru- who came with her great 6 piece jazz/funk band, Diglow.


Akua Naru , who currently lives in Cologne Germany, symbolizes the increasing global character of popular music. Born in New Haven Connecticut, she attended college in New Jersey, grad- uate school in Pennsylvania,


and lived for two years in China, and several months in African before finally set- ting


in Germany with her hus- band who is of German- Nigerian ancestry and beginning work on a doctoral degree in American studies. Her lyrics, and her music videos are filled with images from the countries she has spent time in .


The video for her song “Tales of Men” has scenes shot in China and Ghana as well as Germany and the US, while the video for “The World is Listening”


was shot in Cologne, New Haven, and the Bronx. Her most powerful song, “ The Journey,” a


sweeping


evocation of 5 centuries of African Ameican women’ s history, begins in


Africa,


carries us on slave ships to the Caribbean, and then heads into the Carolinas where the American (US) portion of the journey unfolds. Every song she raps or sings, no matter how personal, no matter how rooted in a local setting, car- ries the weight of history in it. No person working in hip hop today has songs which


touch people on such multiple levels, with images drawn from historical events, literature, earlier musical tra- ditions, and images drawn from popular culture. Some of her songs may ultimately be hailed as great literature themselves! Yet when you see Akua Naru live, you immediately under- stand that the key to her art is her musicality, her timing, and her ability to use the rhythm of speech to make her audience dance and shout. Though her lyrics are informed by her scholar- ship, there is nothing aca-


something she learned as the only female in ciphers in her home town of New Haven where if her rhymes didn’t make people move, she would be shut down. She’s fast, she’s fluid, she’s unpredictable and she comes HARD, whether she’s spitting her own lyrics, or in one of her tribute raps, those of other great female MC’s Now put her in a band with six great instru- mentalists and the result is magical. Akua Naru , like a great jazz singer, has such impeccable timing,


that she enhances the musi- cianship of her band. In many of her live


performances, each of the musicians in the band has the opportunity to go off on improvised solos, carefully


chosen at moments in her songs where this will not detract from the lyrical message. What you end up is a combination of breathtaking rhymes, drum riffs, saxophone and key- board solos, and overpower- ing conclusions to songs where everyone kicks in together. I have never seen a live hop hop performance anything like this where a great rapper and great musicians work in tandem. If this is the future of hip hop, I am all for it Fordham University got a rare treat in September when this remarkable artist gave us a first hand example of what a great lyri- cist can do when paired with great musicians. Her album, “The Journey Aflame” is one of the five


best hip hop albums I have come across in the recent years, but Akua Naru is one of those rare hip hop artists who is even better live than she is in the studio. If Akua Naru ever comes to your city, don’t miss her.


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