Mix Tape Monday: Reppin’ Rap

In my high school years I would stumble across the occasional amateur rap battle or two during lunch or between classes. I attribute the excitement of those fleeting moments of grass roots rap to the birth of my love of rap (and previously mentioned amateur beatboxing dreams).

The songs listed are much better than anything I ever heard in high school and way beyond my own ability (oh to be able to lay down such cutting and clever rhymes!). While I still can’t rap (well) I can at least listen to these songs, nod along, and practice a line or two.

 Ok or maybe not.

Salome MC – Price of Freedom. Both an artist and a musician this Iranian lady writes some rebellious rhymes covering everything from society, artistry, and ever present existential ambiguity. Like this? Try  Gonahe Vojod.

Swings – Fallin (feat Jay Park). The self titled “Punchline King” of South Korea lives up to his name with some hard hitting lines. Feeling this? Try 이겨낼거야 2 (Victorious 2)  and 달리자 (which also features many other famous Korean rappers).

Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur (feat Shadia Mansour). This French-Chilean rapper has been all over NPR lately and rightly so! I love her tracks 1977 and Shock as well.

Supersci – All Year Next Year. The 60’s almost Beatles-like electric tune to this Swedish rap group’s song immediately caught my attention. Want more? Listen to On The Grind.

Cut Killer– Nique la Police. This track mixed with Edith Piaf’s classic “Je ne regrette rien” speaks volumes about the tension surrounding modern French identity. Duly famous for the gorgeous shot it was used in the film La Haine (which go see now if you haven’t).

Shing02 with Nujabes – Luv (sic) Part 2. For all you smooth, chill beats lovers out there Shing02 is for you. Anime watchers out there may recognize him from Battlecry the theme of Samurai Champloo. There are six parts to the Luv(sic) set. Check out the full set here.


Whew! I may have bit off more than I can chew. There is a ton of excellent international rap and hip hop to choose from so stay tuned for updates. In the mean time leave your reactions or suggestions below!

Mix Tape Monday: Footloose Edition

Sometimes I fall into dance routine funk. You know. When I’m out on the town and I’m pushed into the dreaded dance circle (or more accurately when I’m dancing around my apartment) sometimes I’m just at a loss. What step should I use? How many shimmies and isolations can I get away with? Fortunately, there is the internet to save me from my choreographic rut. Here is a list of videos that make my dance breaks more interesting.

Gather your dance crew around or try learning these moves solo. Everybody warmed up? Cause once you pop n’ lock the fun don’t stop!

SHINee – Lucifer. This South Korean boy band is well known for their great dances (try learning the dance to Sherlock as well). If this video is too fast try their practice version to help break it down.

Fuse ODG – Azonto. This is a new popular dance from Ghana (brought to you by my excellent friend Abena) is a little easier to jump into. The lyrics break down the moves so all you have to do is follow along.

Heropanti – Whistle Baja. These steps are from the Bollywood movie Heropanti. If you don’t feel up to the acrobatics pulled by our lead dancer you can definitely master the hook step during the whistling. Love this? Try Palat Tera Hero Idhar Hai

P Square – Alingo. Like the Azonto but want something a little faster? Try the Alingo by this Nigerian duo.

Dream Team do Passinho – Todo Mundo Aperta o Play. This dance group is performing the a Brazilian dance style the passinho considered to be a mix of hip hop and funk that is unique to Brazil.

Any great new international dance styles or popular choreographed dances that I missed? Post ’em below!


Calling all philosophy, social anthropology, psychology, and social theory lovers out there (or anyone who loves Law and Order, sci-fi, or a good thriller!) I have a show you need to try! From writer Gen Urobuchi, known the cult favorite series Madoka Magica, comes the new anime series Psycho-Pass. If haven’t seen an anime show since Pokémon (I know you still know the theme song) or you are laboring under the misapprehension that anime is all fanservice and giant robots. Watch this series! Urobuchi’s work is infamous for its twists and turns and Psycho-Pass does not disappoint. He not only creates a thrilling story but he also systematically destabilizes the world in which all the action is taking place. What starts out as a seemingly simple police procedural grows exponentially in depth as the series progresses.

Set in an alternative and slightly futuristic Japan society is now governed by a infallible computer system called Sybil. Sybil continually monitors citizens’ mental states creating an open society where other’s inner worlds are made both visible and quantifiable. In this world crime is rare. Our protagonists are part of a small police force that take care of crime before it happens by judging  mentally unstable citizens via the Sybil system. Sound like Minority Report to you? Well, no, it isn’t. Its so much more. The show examines the many different angles of human society and makes a point of confronting the moral and ethical gray areas inherent in any social system. It questions everything from judgement, styles of law enforcement, defining humanity, how social structures impact individual psyche, identity, personal responsibility and even the use of pharmaceuticals. Its a crash course in social theory!

For all you academic nerds out there (me, me, pick me!) philosophical and literary allusions abound. You’ve got Titus Andronicus, Minority Report, The Most Dangerous Game, the Bible, Descartes, Heart of Darkness, philosophical skepticism, Proust, panopticism, William Gibson, José Ortega, Logan’s Run, and Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep to name a few and that’s just in the first season! But if all that theory is not your thing not to worry. This series is action packed so you won’t spend all your time pondering which allusion went where.

As I mentioned before there are several good twists. And fair warning there is some dark stuff herein. But don’t let that dissuade you! Those scenes are expertly used to drive the plot and further destabilize the social structure. The show does an excellent job of navigating the fine line of exploring the dark sides of human nature without causing me to feel bogged down in darkness (unlike some other shows I know. Yeah, Attack on Titan…I’m talking to you).

So if you want to watch a show that’s a riveting combination of a thriller and a thought experiment plus its filled with some of the most compelling antagonists you’re likely to come across (step aside Moriarty) check out Psycho-Pass! (I strongly recommend watching the subbed version for both seasons. They are available on Season 1 Netflix and Funimation, Season 2 Hulu.)

Apropos of nothing, tell me I’m not the only one who thinks that Chief Kasei looks like Miranda from Devil Wears Prada.

Additionally Psycho-Pass the movie just came out in theaters in Japan. So keep your eyes peeled for the film once it is distributed in the US. (Don’t watch the linked trailer to the movie if you intend to watch the series because there are some major spoilers…you have been warned!)

Mix Tape Monday: Battle of the Bands

That’s right folks. This week its all about bands, bands, bands. So break out your guitars and dust off those garage band dreams cause we’re about to rock.


The KOXX – Trouble Maker. These South Korean guys seriously know how to rock a guitar solo plus the awesome kitsch of this video would make the Wyld Stallyns proud. They certainly deserve a post all of their own but I couldn’t make this list without including them. Rock out more with Oriental Girl and 12:00.

Ykiki Beat – Forever. I love this track and if you’re like me and playing it on repeat try listening to Young Life and Garden. When I take my next trip to Tokyo I know who I will be looking up!

340ml – Fairy Tales. Swing away in Mozambique with Moodswings and Australopithecus (ok I may have included the last one because it blatantly panders to my anthropology degree…so shoot me.)

Quest Pistols -Ты Так Красива. Oh, you thought that video was gonna be all rainbows and cuddles didn’t you? Ha! Gotcha. These Ukrainians rocking your socks? Listen to Я твой наркотик

Wir sind Helden – Nuir ein Wort. This song makes me feel like that spending a day exploring Berlin with them would be lovely. Like this? Try Denkmal and Gekommen Um Zu Bleiben.

WHOwho – Her. More music from South Korea (I had to control myself before I got carried away). If you dig their electric sound with a touch of funk check out Bye Bye and Down Below

Kabul Dreams – Sadae Man. Want to rock harder in Kabul? Well this group (aka the first postmodern rock band in Afghanistan) can help. Try Can You Fly? and  Shahab

Don’t see the band you love here? Comment below! What other bands from around the world should everyone know about? Oh….and party on dudes!

Mix Tape Monday: Femmes Fatales

I wanted a way to share new songs that I’m loving at the moment. So I came up with the idea for Mix Tape Mondays. Each Monday I’ll post around six or seven songs based on a general theme (aka whatever strikes my fancy.) Each artist should have a variety of work to choose from so if you love one song check out the hyperlinks to find more! Hopefully, it should be an easy way to explore a range of the new music out there. If I am super ambitious there will be geographic mixes as well. Who knows? We’ll work it out as we go along. But enough of my rambling and on with the show!

For my first Mix Tape Monday I bring you Femmes Fatales, fierce female artists from around the globe and different musical genres. Its like a musical buffet just a few clicks away. So put those eating pants on and feel free to get seconds (or thirds…or more…this is a judgement free zone).

Let’s hear it for the girls!

Christine and the Queens – Christine. Their album Chaleur Humaine came highly recommended to me by my fellow musicophile, Abena, and I can see why. Like this lady’s sound? Try Nuit 17 à 52 and Science Fiction for more French tracks. Actually just listen to the whole album.

Nabiha – Never Played the Bass. This video is so fun! Danish disco all the way. I love her songs Mind the Gap and Trouble too.

Yuna Zarai – Mountains. This Malaysian singer-songwriter has such a beautiful voice that apparently even Pharell knows of her greatness. Listen to Falling and Tourist.

Ailee – Don’t Touch Me. A rare Korean solo artist amongst a sea of girl bands in South Korea. Dare I compare her to Beyoncé? For more try U &I.

Egoist – Namae No Nai Kaibutsu. This Japanese band is for all you Evanescence fans out there. Yes, there may be a little black magic in the video but don’t mind that check out this song Fallen instead.

Yasmine Hamdan – Samar. Yasmine has major musical chops. Originally she was in a Lebanese band called Soap Kills but now is working as a solo artist. Want more? Try Deny and Shouei

Miss Ko –  葛仲珊 – 打破他. Like this awesome Taiwanese rap? Me too. Listen to  Selfie Addict (the video for this one is pretty hilarious)

This isn’t a comprehensive list but any means so keep your eyes out for later updates. Also Let me know which ones you liked! Or if there are some other female artists everyone should know about drop me a line in the comments below.

Artist Spotlight: Stromae

Do you like

  • hard hitting, yet eloquent upbeat French lyrics?
  • learning new and slightly eccentric dance moves?
  • brushing up on your verlan?
  • a mix between rap, spoken word, and singing?
  • expanding your francophone horizons? (we’re bringing Belgium back, yeah!)

Then read on!

Unafraid to confront social convention Stromae juxtaposes addictive upbeat (and danceable) songs with some heavy and thought provoking lyrics. He is the very maestro from which he took his name. Not a French speaker? Not to worry the songs are great on their own but I highly recommend looking up translations of the lyrics because Stromae just lays it down!

Below are my top three songs at the moment  but be sure to check out his latest album Racine Carrée for more.

Alors On Danse – Do you hate your job? Has the day-to-day drudgery and the farce that is everyday life become overwhelming? Well, this song is for you. This is the track that launched Stromae into international acclaim. And forces me to dance whenever I hear it…which may be the point.

Ave Cesaria – This song is the least synthesized of the three and has an effervescent tropical beat. The home style video can be a little dizzying but is endearing and does a great job of showing different points of view as the camera is passed amongst the party goers.

Tous Les Mêmes – Herein are the fun dance moves mentioned earlier. This music video features Stromae acting out male and female roles while he sings from the perspective of a woman. It is awesome. The demented tango he dances with himself (lyrically and literally) is something I feel like we all can relate to.