Here are two very different songs for you. The first is a pretty recent rap song that got some heavy rotation over the summer. When I read that NaS and Damien Marley had put together an album I was tripping. NaS is one of the best East Coast rappers out there, and the fact that he was married to Kelis for two years (one of my favourite R&B/pop singers) only makes him that much cooler. The fact that the guy who wrote Illmatic and the most talented son of Bob Marley were releasing a record together was (literally) music to my ears. This is the lead single off that album, As We Enter.
And this is the original sample. It’s by a not-very-well known Ethiopian artist called Mulatu Astatke. While he’s been very influential in his native country, cross-over appeal has been late in coming. It was only really after the film Broken Flowers that he became better known. Anyway, this is a great song and a fantastic example of a good ‘world music’ song that’s been able to infiltrate modern pop music.
Now for some contemporary lounge / house music. Moby brought ambient house and chillout music to the masses in the late ’90’s. One of his songs, Extreme Ways, is the theme tune to the Bourne films and his other songs have been used in all sorts of TV and films. This is one of his better-known songs, Natural Blues
The vocal comes from the 1937 acapella song by Miss Vera Hall, Trouble So Hard. It’s a rare example of very early blues and folk. At the time her voice was described by her informal biographer as “mellow and pure”. He’s not wrong.