It’s been a long time between drinks for Melbourne’s mighty Afrobeat juggernaut The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra (The POAO). To get everyone warmed up for 2015’s much anticipated LP release, two of the group’s vocalists, rapper 1/6 and singer / percussionist Lamine Sonko are fronting alternate sides of a split 7” out on HopeStreet Recordings. A highly nutritious Afro freaky snack to keep enthusiasts of all things raw and righteous satisfied till the main course arrives.
The A Side, “Cosmetic Love,” is a rumination on the nature of relationships by one of Australia’s leading rap lyricists 1/6. The track’s life began as a jam session that went to tape in the early days of the Hope Street studio, based on an idea by PutBacks guitarist Tom Martin. The session lay unused for years till 1/6 came across it and threw down these inspired rap verses. Public Opinion producer and musical director Tristan Ludowyk laid in some organ, additional percussion and brass and suddenly “Cosmetic Love” wasn’t just a song, it was an A-side. An A-side born of happy accident.
On the B side: The Public Opinion Six, formerly The Afrobiotics. The rhythm section behind the POAO, start with the same idea and re-imagine it, creating a whole new song.With lyrics wfritten and performed by Lamine Sonko, “Jappo,” in the Senegalese language of Wolof means “unite”. Behind Lamine’s straight-out-of-Dakar vocal stylings, The Public Opinion Six bring a heavy 1970s Lagos influenced groove, creating a pumping Pan African mélange – sure to get motors running everywhere, from West Africa to worldwide.
Between them, Namibian Australian 1/6 (aka Aaron Stephanus) and Senegal born and raised Lamine represent the cream of African Australian vocalists and songwriters. 1/6 has won numerous plaudits in his decade long rap career, from the Hilltop Hoods award in 2010 to a critically acclaimed solo album Electronic Mail released by Pang Productions in 2012. Lamine grew up in Dakar in a lauded family of the griot tradition and is has followed been training in traditional Sabar music and dance forms since childhood. Now the unofficial Southern hemisphere ambassador of the Sonko clan, he brings a fresh angle on Afrobeat direct from Dakar to Melbourne. Both 1/6 and Lamine are at the vanguard of the new generation of African music makers and makers of African music in Australia.