Los Rakas, Meta and the Cornerstones & Tiken Jah Fakoly
It was a whirlwind trip, but I couldn't resist checking out Central Park Summerstage last Saturday - along with a big crowd with a big West African presence.
I'd never heard of Los Rakas before, but their infectious Latin hip hop with an occasional reggae flavour had me hooked. They're based in Oakland, California with members from Panama and the U.S.
Meta is from Senegal, the Cornerstones hail from all over, and his sunny style of reggae was perfect for a hot, hot afternoon in the sun. They've played before thousands in Paris and seem like they're on the way up. He's only been in New York City for a few years but is obviously making his mark.
I caught Tiken Jah Fakoly in Toronto in March and welcomed the chance to see him again on a bigger stage outdoors. He gave a generous hour and a half performance peppered with his typically insightful/inciteful political observations on the inherent unfairness of the visa systems employed by developed nations and the liberating revolution of education that Africa needs - among others.
The band is big and fantastic, with an especially impressive kora player adding that West African touch to his reggae tunes. Add a big crowd who loved him and all in all, it adds up to a great, full afternoon of music and sweaty dancing in the sun.