By: Daniel Hodgman
The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.
The “World Cup” Mixtape
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know full well that the biggest sporting event is taking place this year: The World Cup. Despite the stories surrounding Brasil and FIFA’s actions regarding preparation for this year’s tournament–and believe me, there was and still is a lot of controversy–the fact remains that these countries and squads are playing now and that hundreds of millions of fans are enjoying these games. Today I’d like to share some tunes from countries participating in the tournament and get everybody groovin’ to some worldly music.
ENGLAND: “Bottom Of A Bottle” by Rag’N’Bone Man
Let’s face it: England isn’t the England of old. This has been apparent for at least six years now, but it seems that come every big tournament, the Three Lions always pose a threat. Well, I think it’s time for them to face the truth: as far as UEFA teams, they’re near the bottom of the bottle.
NIGERIA: “Baraje” by Ruggedman
There’s something about Ruggedman that just keeps it real. “Baraje” is an example of this, as he literally lets the music “get inside his head.” Nigeria’s soccer team on the same spectrum keeps things real: they play hard, overpower you with speed and quickness, have a strong back four, and display a ferocious counter-attack.
SOUTH KOREA: “It’s Cold” by Epik High
Epik High is one of the most popular hip-hop acts in South Korea right now. Up until their release of Mapping the Human Soul in 2003, they went largely unnoticed and out of any spotlight, but now they’re a major face for Korean hip-hop. I struggled between “It’s Cold” and “I Remember” because both represent South Korea’s soccer team right now. “It’s Cold” represents how, and I’m sorry to say this, bad their squad is right now, and “I Remember” acts as one of those nostalgic cuts, looking back at say 2002 when South Korea finished fourth in the tournament. Ultimately, I picked “It’s Cold,” because damn, this team is so far from playing hot and on a streak there’s nothing else to say.
GERMANY: “Joko Diss” by Eko Fresh
After watching Germany dismantle Portugal and seeing Klose tie Brasilian legend Ronaldo’s World Cup scoring record, it was hard for me to deny how damn good Germany is at soccer/futbol/what-have-you. Germany is to soccer as bangers are to music: aka, Germany hits hard, fast and without a care in the world for who’s offended (with that, I have to say that some of their fans have GREATLY offended all of us good folk with their blackface shitstorm). Anyway, I digress. Germany’s a banger (despite my deepest wishes for the U.S. to take them down on Thursday), “Joko Diss” by German rapper Eko Fresh is a banger and they should be together.
GHANA: “Lion On A Leash” by Kae Sun
Kae Sun is one of the more popular hip-hop/fusion artists to come out of Ghana, and its his musical style that’s so appealing and internationally renowned. His melodic soul-infused lyrics often shine with poetic bursts about socio-political themes, and every song of his oozes with complete honesty. I picked “Lion On A Leash” because that’s exactly what Ghana’s soccer team is right now. According to reports, the team might have been involved in match-fixing games for profit. What’s sad is that it completely hinders this squad and the talent it possesses. They are one of the best teams in the world (they’re a lion), and yet these match-fixing allegations might hurt them long into the future (this represents the leash).
CAMEROON/FRANCE: “Demain (Jazz)” by Les Nubians
If you don’t know Les Nubians, then you should probably up your hip-hop game. These wonderful ladies have worked with the likes of Blu & Sene, Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek, The Black Eyed Peas, Guru and Blitz the Ambassador. Along with their coveted features with other artists, they also have an impressive discography themselves. Now, the reason why I list them as “Cameroon AND France” is simply because they’re Cameroonian and French (mother was from Cameroon, father was from France) and were brought up and discovered in Bordeux. It’s also very fitting for French soccer though, with so many of their players having African backgrounds from countries with French colonialist roots. Because of this, players can choose between playing for their African country or for France, and most pick France.