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Music

OneBeat returns to shake up the definition of world music

A world of talent meets in New Smyrna Beach to create genre-bending works

Photo: Photos by Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A

Photos by Patricia Lois Nuss

Jiha Park

Photo: , License: N/A

Ahmed Rock


The rapper Marianetti was speaking of is Ahmed Rock, a pioneer of hip-hop in Egypt, who consciously simplifies his raps in order to deliver his messages about the revolution clearly to the largest audience possible. He and his collective, Revolution Records, use a portable studio to record, produce and engineer their music, but at this moment, he’s in the painting studio at the Atlantic Center for the Arts making beats to back the incredibly powerful vocal of Indian singer Malabika Brahma, whose voice is so strong, it shakes those in attendance to stunned tears. Yang Fan is on guitar. Jiha Park is on the taepyeongso, a Korean oboe that rivals Brahma’s intensity in pitch. The only natural correlation between preferred genres of any musician in the room is that Ahmed Rock is joined by an underground New York MC, YC the Cynic. What they’re creating is definitely hip-hop, but it’s certainly not hip-hop we’ve heard before.

Over in the theater, Mcata passes leadership responsibilities over to New York bassist Greg Chudzik, who has contributed to releases on labels like 4AD and Jagjaguwar. His complicated bass lines are difficult at first to relay to the fresh ears around him, and the question of whether the artists should be learning the songs exactly or interpreting the songs more liberally arises. The choice is theirs, of course, but in a room full of leaders, any one is capable to take charge. While he explains, Venezuelan drummer Omar Amado leans on a tambora while seated at a more modern drum kit. (It should be noted that the equipment that clutters these spacious studios would make any musician from anywhere drool.) It’s foreign, this whole process, but it seems to be working.

How the incubation period will stretch these musicians further will be demonstrated at a free show at Timucua this Friday, before the group tours up the East Coast with New York City set as their final destination. Russian beatboxer Masta Mic – whose YouTube channel has more than 50 million views – admits he felt lost at first within his ensemble, which includes Senegalese rapper Toussa and oud player George Kandalaft from Nazareth. For those who missed last year’s performance, this insight could set an audience on edge, but Marianetti says that this is actually a sign of a promising piece in the making.

“What ended up happening [last year] was amazing, because we ended up with groups that just didn’t really jive well in the beginning,” Marianetti says. “They couldn’t communicate, but then by the end, these were, in my opinion, the most beautiful pieces.”

Related Gallery:

Click the photo to launch a slideshow to see more of the musicians of OneBeat.

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