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by Cynthia Fuchs

13 Jan 2012


“As a girl it was not really a given, it wasn’t easy to rap in Senegal because making music was not really for girls,” says Fatou Mandiang Diatta. But when she was a child, watching music videos on TV and composing her own songs, the hiphop artist now known as Sister Fa knew she would never be like the other girls, who were “supposed to stay home, cook, do dishes and laundry, and just wait at home with mom for a handsome husband.” In fact, as she narrates in the documentary Sarabah, Fatou does have a handsome husband, a filmmaker and social anthropologist named Lukas May. They live in his native country, Germany, and have a little girl who accompanies them as they work in the studio or tour with their band. Sister Fa has always made overtly political music, including songs about AIDS awareness, Islam, and women’s rights in Senegal. (She released her CD, Tales from the Flipside of Paradise, in 2009.) But it was only recently that Fatou began incorporating her personal story into her performances. Specifically, she began speaking and singing about her experience with Female Genital Cutting.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Jan 2012


Earlier this week, director George Lucas, executive producer and writer of the new movie Red Tails, was the guest on The Daily Show. As he sat down with Jon Stewart, Lucas discussed the difficulties of getting Hollywood to market “one of the first all-black action pictures ever made”. Lucas indicated that the movie studios did not have incentive to release this movie since it was not “green” (which both Stewart and I interpreted as environmental initially) and they would not know how to profit off of it. Additionally, “They don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it, and that’s 60% of their profit”.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

13 Jan 2012


The London band Fanfarlo appeared on the music scene with their solid debut release, Reservoir, back in 2009. The quintet’s rich textures of instrumentation included trumpet, mandolin, clarinet and musical saw, offering a quirky spin on their indie pop vibe. There is a new video for a song off the upcoming sophomore release due out in February, Rooms Filled With Light. Director Tim Nackashi came up with the idea for “Shiny Things” with the group, but they are nowhere to be seen. Instead, three gymnasts are presenting a routine to a three judges panel in a cold, stark room before one of them falls and is hauled away. Singer Simon Balthazar told NPR that it’s a song about giving things up, and this young woman becomes a sacrifice in short order. The band will tour throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning in March and without experiencing even a quick appearance in the video, it’ll just make fans miss them more.

by Joseph Fisher

13 Jan 2012


I worry about the members of A Place to Bury Strangers. First, they instructed us to fix the gashes in our heads, which suggests that we all did something that resulted in us receiving gashes in our heads. Then, they wrote a record about exploding heads. And now, they are directing us Onwards to the Wall. Dudes, we here in the USA still haven’t quite worked out all the kinks in all that universal health care stuff. Therefore, you might want to go easy on the head-bashing-wall-running-into thing.

And all of you, PopMatters readers, should probably turn down your speakers as you watch the following video for the band’s newest single “So Far Away”. The band is still unbearably loud, and we here in the USA still haven’t worked out all the kinks in all that universal health care stuff.

by Cynthia Fuchs

13 Jan 2012


Sing Your Song‘s focus on political activism—its relationship to celebrity, whether a star owns it or not—mirrors that of its subject. As Harry Belafonte recalls here, his inclination to activism was ignited early, as a boy whose mother worked as a domestic, and who sent him and his brother to live with relatives in Jamaica: “Almost all the songs that I later came to sing,” he says, “were songs that I heard among the people, the peasants, my family, at the time.” The film shows photos of Jamaican workers, children and the shoreline, as he credits his mother for making him believe “There was nothing in life that I could not aspire to.” Belafonte took Paul Robeson as a model, and the notorious official efforts to suppress Robeson’s “song”—the blacklisting, the FBI and CIA surveillance, and the revocation of his US passport in 1950—hover over Belafonte’s story, along with Robeson’s advice to him: “Get them to sing your song, and they’ll want to know who you are.” Belafonte used his popularity—his appeal to “white teenyboppers” along with other fans all over the world—to show the intersections of art and politics.

See PopMattersreview.

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