Body of Songs: Blood with Afrikan Boy

1 Jun

afrikan boy

Curated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk.

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Afrikan Boy is proudly Nigerian, and the next track from Body of Songs is called “Eje Aiye,” which is Yoruba for “Life Blood.” He even sings large part of the song in his native language, but he makes it work with spatial left-field composition similar to the rest of the songs in the project. This is once again another unique take on an aspect of our biology.

Afrikan Boy came onto my radar after I heard “Hussel” by M.I.A. He made quite an impression, with the first words I ever heard him utter: “You think it’s tough now? Come to Africa.” I don’t know an international artist that is as fiercely patriotic as Afrikan Boy, and the few lines in Yoruba on “Eje Aiye” are very important. This is a project about the human body, and we cannot dismiss the medical crises that plague that continent, for we all share this human experience.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know if I’d necessarily count blood as an organ, but the explanation behind the choice makes up for it. Thinking first sonically, Afrikan Boy wanted to write about the heart so he could use a heartbeat in the rhythm of the song. Then: “I spoke with a heart specialist who quickly pointed out to me that the sound of a ‘heartbeat’ is simply the noise of blood being pumped through.” This ignited a new idea which in turn created a character of the blood personified. Speaking as a soldier being pumped through our veins, Afrikan Boy describes his job, to “protect,” “transport,” and “repair” while also defining the metaphorical task of “cleaning up your human nature.” This rap is well written and well executed, and perhaps will make us appreciate- if even just for a moment- our omnipresent lifeblood.

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