Happy Discovery Day -- Real Geographic Discoveries of the Modern Age

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 13, 2014 04:42pm | Post a Comment
Portrait of Columbus

I will not make the argument that Columbus's arrival in the New World was insignificant merely because he was an absolutely awful person or because he didn't actually discover anything (which he himself maintained, claiming until his death that he'd merely found a different route to Asia). But think about this before you dismiss -- before Columbus, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, cashews, cassava root, chili peppers, chocolate, cocaine, gourds, maize, peanuts, pecans pineapples, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla were all unknown in the Old World and alcohol, apples, bananas, barley, cheese, coffee, mango, onions, rice, tea, and turnips, and wheat were unknown in the Americas. Imagine an existence without any of those and you can hopefully begin to get a taste of the importance of the Columbian Exchange. Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato sauce or gnocchi and you can't help but wonder if this is why Columbus is so dear to many Italians. Imagine, on the other hand, genocide, slavery, and old world diseases and you'll understand why he's even more hated by many others. 

Panama-By-Way-of-Oakland Hip-Hop Duo Los Rakas Talk to the Amoeblog

Posted by Billyjam, November 25, 2011 02:30pm | Post a Comment

If ever there was a Bay Area hip-hop act ready to go big time it is Los Rakas, who tonight (Friday, 11/25) play the New Parish in Oakland along with Nima Fadavi. Truly a most unique East Bay hip-hop group, they have an instantly identifiable sound and image, a great logo, and their own philosophy ("the Raka Rules" they say are simple but sound; "Be yourself"). 

Comprised of the two cousins Raka Dun and Raka Rich (both now in their mid twenties) they grew up in Panama where they soaked up reggae, dancehall, samba, soca, and salsa before immigrating to the US a decade or so ago. Upon arrival in the Bay Area they each fell in love with the then burgeoning homegrown hyphy sound whose quirky production values  influenced the talented duo's music - a unique blend of traditional Panama sounds, reggae dancehall, reggaeton & Bay Area beats plus some other musical flavors too, all rapped & sung in Spanish that has been labelled "Panabay." While so far they've been rapping pretty much exclusively En Espanol they've recently done a series of collaborations with English speaking (American rapping/singing) artists including E40 and Goapele - all of which, no doubt, will assist in the pair gaining their deserved mass appeal.

A few months ago Los Rakas released their first official CD release (the recommended, independently released eight song EP Chancletas y Camisetas Bordada which is available at Amoeba Music) but the talented duo have been busy recording & releasing a steady stream of songs for several years now - most of which they gave away as free song or mixtape downloads. These have included 2006's Panabay Twist and 2009's Panabay Twist Vol 2.: La Tanda Del Bus. Together with a series of popular music videos posted online, most notably the viral video for "Soy Raka" that showcased Oakland's turfin' dance craze, Los Rakas have been grabbing the attention of music fans near and far. Still unsigned they've been creating the kind of buzz typical for an act with a major label push.

Last year Los Rakas won a prestigious Discovery Artist award from the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC). They've gotten airplay on such influential commercial radio stations as KMEL San Francisco, Latino 96.3 Los Angeles, and La Mega 97.9 New York and shared concert bills with such national stars as Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, ?uestlove, Outkast, and Nas & Damien Marley. In fact over the past year and a half they've been gigging non-stop. Last Saturday night they headlined a packed show at S.O.B.s in New York City.

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