Massak - Live!
"Massak is a Bassa (Cameroonese tongue and tribe) name that means 'music, trance and enjoyement through rythms and sounds'. In West French Indian Creole it means 'slaughter' and in one of Madagascar languages it means 'food is ready' so you can pick up the meaning you like the best."
"I love it...The vocals ,the music - it's beautiful. They have a heavy Fela influence but very good. You need to get me an early advance copy !" (Common on "T&C / Junglectric Medley")
When I was conducting an interview with one of my favourite hip-hop artists last week I couldn't resist playing him a CD-R of the new Massak record. Ever since Femi Kuti opened Common's "Water For Chocolate" album (followed by an uncleared Tony Allen sample on the second track ) Common's love for Afrobeat was obvious. With this in mind I expected a positive feedback and even if I take in account that Common acted very humble and polite during the interview his enthusiasm for Massak seemed to be heartfelt.
With such brilliant recommendation I don't have brag and boast about how good the new record on Melting Pot Music is. Instead I can head straight to the facts:
Massak is the creation of one man: bandleader, singer, composer, guitarist and producer Franck Biyong. Born in France to Cameroonese parents, he spent his childhood in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) before he returned to France 12 years ago. Massak started playing local clubs in 1997 and quickly became one of the best kept secrets within the international Afrobeat diaspora. Since then they have toured France, England and the USA but it was a little 45 single on Lenar/Soul Fire that finally caught the attention of fans of gritty funk and afrobeat alike. "B.L.A." became my favourite new Afrobeat tune of 2002 and was the initial reason why I wanted to work with Franck Biyong & Massak.
To stay in tune with the special nature of Massak's music we decided to release a live recording as their first release on MPM. And the music on this 12" is exactly this: live and direct from the source with no overdubs or edits but heavy vibin\\\' and full of energy.
"Tony Allen is one of the most amazing and innovative drummers ever." says Franck. "He' s like Tony Williams (the legendary Miles Davis drummer).No one will ever do it like he does it. I've had the honour to be his opening act last year and was honoured. I questioned him a bit about his music and he told me "When I play,there are six people playing in fact".There's nothing more to say."
The recording of "A.S.U." dates back to the summer of 2000. "A.S.U." stands for "African Spiritual Unity" and was recorded live in the studio during the same session as "B.L.A. (Brain Liberation Army). The original version is over 16 minutes long. We had to cut it down to 10 minutes in order to fit in with the 12" maxi single format.
"For me Afrobeat is a major source of inspiration but the music I play is different: I call it 'Afrolectric' because it suits better the person I am: an African who was taught and lives in a Western culture. It represents myself as who I am and not as an Afrobeat inheritor"
Olski , Cologne, May 2003