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Rich Medina and Bobbito

The Connection Volume One

Modern Explorations in Afro-Beat and Afro-Latin

(R2; US: 12 May 2009; UK: 13 Apr 2009)

Philadelphia’s Rich Medina and New York City’s Bobbito have been DJing together for quite some time. On The Connection Volume One, they show that Afrobeat and Latin dance music go far beyond Fela Kuti and Rubén Blades. Most of the two dozen tracks featured here are indeed contemporary. On Medina’s Afrobeat disc, the style’s touchstones haven’t changed much since Kuti’s heyday. Rattling, double-time snares, sinewy funk guitar lines, declarative horn blasts, and deep bass dominate. Everything’s funky, of course, but there are some twists, such as Chico Mann’s moody, hip-hop flavored “Sound Is Everything”. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the controversial matter of Kuti’s often-bilious lyrics.


Puerto Rican-descended Bobbito handles the Latin disc. Dealing with a much broader palate, he takes in salsa, jazz, nu-soul, bossa, and, of course, funk. As you might expect, things are much more relaxed, breezy, and harmony-rich here. At first listen, you may think Bobbito’s gone the more traditional route. Look more closely, though, and the heavy funk of tracks like the Quantic Soul Orchestra’s “Lead Us to the End” comes into focus. Throughout both discs, modern hip-hop and electronic touches remind you that most of this music was created in the 21st Century. Whatever your angle, The Connection Volume One is eclectic, funky, and a perfectly fun soundtrack for summertime.

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John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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