Culture Cypher Radio | photo by DL10 | @_d1l0_
The Culture Cypher Radio October Chart: A global view with Fela and Femi Kuti, Tom Tom Club, Ahmad Jamal, Seba Kepstaad and more
From the airing of our first show back in September 2019, the musical programming of Culture Cypher Radio has always had a global focus. Every month, Culture Cypher Radio’s playlists reflect my own enjoyment and curiosity of a wide range of music from artists hailing from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, all over the Americans, and beyond. This month’s episode is particularly broad, representing sounds from everywhere. The diversity of these songs is not limited to just the locations of the artists. Much of this eclecticism comes from the ways in which these artists appropriate and pay tribute to the musical traditions and cultures of others.
In 1981 — nearly 40 years ago, this month — the Talking Heads rhythm section, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, released Tom Tom Club, a colourful and quirky slice of reggae and hip hop influenced pop that took the charts by storm. Recorded at the legendary Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, Tom Tom Club’s two most enduring songs, the bugged out club hit “Wordy Rappinghood” and the funky, euphoric classic “Genius Of Love” are both happy products of an open-minded sense of experimentation that are heavy on the fun factor. While “Genius Of Love”s mechanic synth-heavy groove was directly inspired by Dayton Ohio funk pioneers, Zapp and their song “More Bounce to the Ounce”, “Wordy Rappinghood” takes notes from New York hip hop and imports its chorus of “Ram Sam Ram-a Ram Sam Sam” from a traditional Moroccan children’s song. Later this month, Raina Douris and I will be on The World Cafe talking about Tom Tom Club and all of the wonderful and unlikely dots that it connected.
With songs like Fela Kuti’s “Shakara” and Femi Kuti’s “Privatisation” as well as Weedie Brimah’s “Full Circle” and his father, Oscar Sulley’s scorching Afro-beat monster, “Olufeme”, there are family connections all over these songs as well. As always, Culture Cypher Radio makes an attempt to unite generations of music, stretching across time, space, and locale. Listen to the entire October episode below, and scroll down to check out this month’s Culture Cypher Radio Chart.