First Published on DC Reggae:
Mustafa Akbar (1958 – 2019)
Most DMV Reggae Music lovers know Mustafa Akbar as the lead singer of Nappy Riddem. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, he leaves behind an amazing catalog and legacy. Mustafa Akbar Music wrote, recorded and released several solo albums over the years, as well as with groups like Fort Knox Five, Thunderball, All Good Funk Alliance, Basement Freaks and others. He toured extensively across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore to name a few. Veterans of DC’s underground music scene probably met Mustafa as the bouncer at the door of Club Red. And for nearly 20 years Mustafa worked at the Eighteenth Street Lounge and was their head of security. During those years he launched his own Mustock gathering in rural Virginia, which was part music festival, part campout and part family reunion. One of his personal Mustock highlights was having Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad as the 2010 headliner. Whether as bandleader in Nappy Riddem, a touring musician or guest vocalist, Mustafa always brought his heart and soul to the stage and made a joyful noise unto Jah.
Mustafa survived a near-fatal car accident in Fall 2016, and through his own determination and community support he recovered and performed again. He continued his prolific career, recording dozens of new songs since the car crash. Sadly in Fall 2018 he was diagnosed with HLH, a rare blood disorder which is treated through chemotherapy. After the first round of treatment, his body was too weak to survive the second round. While we are sad to lose his positive energy and rebellious spirit in our daily lives, we know that Mustafa was at peace with his creator, “The Most High” in his own words. Mustafa leaves behind a massive catalog of over 100 tracks and dozens more remixes and collaborations. He collaborated with artists and producers from around the globe and toured widely across four continents. While Mustafa left this plane to join the ancestors, we still listen to him through his lyrics and music. His uncompromising honesty and big smile continue to inspire many and will do so for years to come. We want to say Thank You to Mustafa Akbar and his family, thank you for sharing your gift with us for so many years and making our world a better place to live.
Words: Andy Cerutti
Bulletproof: B-Sides and Rarities
FKX113 – Fort Knox Recordings
Out Now Worldwide
With B-Sides as strong as any A-Side and Rarities that could have been Hits, Thunderball digs deep into the past to prove that even the hidden corners of their catalog are bulletproof. These rare gems by Steve Raskin, Sid Barcelona and Rob Myers have never seen a wide release, having coming out previously only on vinyl and/or compilations and are just now seeing the light of day!
Leading the lineup is an early, unreleased treasure “If Knowledge Is Power” featuring Akil Dasan on vocals. Known as the front man for acid jazz pioneers US3, and for his appearances on Thunderball’s “Stereo Tonic” and Fort Knox Five’s “Blowing Up the Spot,” Akil brings his deft delivery and consciousness to this hip-hop, jazz, drum’n’bass monster. The other unreleased track of the collection happens to be a recent recording. Tracked after the release of 12 Mile High, their last studio album, “Bubbles and Bossa” is a drum’n’bossa toe-tapper that puts your feet in the sand and your ear to the wind as Miss Johnna M’s vocals transport you to the bubbly side of life.
10 inch Vinyl was always the go-to format for a Thunderball single back in the day: cool, collectable, and oh so hard-to-find. Here are some of the B-sides and rarities that appear as digital files for the first time ever: “The Cobra Connection,” a rudeboy-influenced stomper with vocals by Hutchy, who toasts his way over tough beats, afro-percussion, and a stabbing horn line. “The Getaway,” a ‘70s spy film chase scene infused with hypnotic synths, soulful Hammonds and a groovin’ bass line. “Stereo Tonic (Thunderball Stereo Beats Mix)” a percussion-driven, trip-hop workout of Thunderball’s sitar-laced anthem “Stereo Tonic” that flexes on the dancefloor… And speaking of Sitars, another welcome entry highlighting the playing of Rob Myers (Thievery Corporation “Lebanese Blonde”) is “Welcome Back Cooper,” (a collaboration with psychedelic labelmates Liftoff) that fuses ‘60s psychedelia to big beats, frenetic tablas and mod horns and its B-Side the “Liftoff Mini Mix,” a retro, Summer of Love throwback, full of acid-drenched melodies and verbed-out tambourines.
One of the earliest hits for Thunderball was “Heart of the Hustler” featuring Mustafa Akbar, the “Thunderball Poor Hand Dub” is a classic, dub-inspired version of the original. “Don’t Stop,” the earliest B-side on the compilation, is taken from the very first Thunderball 12 inch vinyl, it’s a classic 1997 drum’n’bass roller filled with familiar samples, timestretched vocals, big builds and chopped up beats. “Selector featuring Hutchy” later appeared on Ambassadors of Style, but was first self-released by Thunderball alongside this rare “Drive By” version which flips the original drum’n’bass track into a quintessential ESL Music trip-hop tune with a dub bassline, Nightmares On Wax style beats and Hutchy’s patois stylings.
Closing out this impenetrable collection is “Untouchable” featuring See-I. This track was the beginning of a relationship between See-I and the members of Thunderball that lives to this day. Original Thievery Corporation front men, Rootz and Zee, set the mood with sharp shooting lyrics and teflon reggae vocals atop a relentless dub bassline that creates a lost classic.
Featuring 16 tracks which range from downtempo and trip-hop to drum’n’bass and breakbeat, this compilation brings these lost Thunderball classics together for the first time. Like kevlar, these tracks are bulletproof, untouchable!
12th Annual (Fall) Joshua Tree Music Festival!
When: Oct. 5th-8th, 2017
Where: Joshua Tree Lake, RV and Campground in Joshua Tree, CA
Full Info & Tix: http://www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com/
A family-friendly global music experience in the magical Mojave, with continuous live music, yoga from sunrise to sunset, an action-packed Kidsville, magical visual arts, inspiring playshops, world market, Astronomy Theatre + more. Plus there’s just ONE live stage at a time, so you don’t miss a beat!
Early bird fest passes AND RV sites (w/ hookups) are on sale now!
All things JOSHUA TREE MUSIC FESTIVAL:
#teachpeace #loveeverybody #jtmf2017
FKX108 – Fort Knox Recordings
14 awesome remixes of classic Thunderball material, out now worldwide!
The recent discovery of a hidden trove of buried remixes offers a rare glimpse into the birth of the Downtempo genre and sheds new light on how to get the party started right! Last year saw Thunderball – the alter ego of Fort Knox Five’s Steve Raskin, Sid Barcelona and Rob Myers – come home to Fort Knox Recordings. While curating the re-release of their legendary catalog Thunderball uncovered a vault of previously-unavailable remixes dating from 1997 to 2007. These songs track the evolution of electronic music in Washington, DC as it was being blasted from the legendary Eighteenth Street Lounge and released on Thievery Corporation’s vaunted imprint: ESL Music.
As one of the first artists to sign to ESL Music, Thunderball are fortunate to have two remixes by the label bosses and Downtempo progenetors themselves! Thievery Corporation offer up two remixes – both produced in the fertile, late-’90s era. “On Pop The Trunk,” they deliver a mid-tempo masterpiece, complete with chanting vocals, ’70s horn samples and a percussion workout that grooves as hard today as it did the day it was popped into the trunk. Their remix of “Hijack” captures that elusive, old-school trip-hop flavor which defined the burgeoning lounge scene.
One of the first remixes Fort Knox Five ever produced was “Heart Of The Hustler.” They turn the drum’n’bass of the original into classic hip-hop soul, a combination that would become the foundation of the FK5 sound. In the progression from Thunderball to Fort Knox Five lies JonH & Raskal, the tech-breaks side project of Jon Horvath and Steve Raskin. On “Domino,” they showcase their breaks chops with huge builds, funky percussion and bass grooves to create an epic and unrelenting funky breaks monster. Fort Knox Five then deliver their own version of ragga breaks on a remix of “Strictly Rudeboy,” increasing the energy of the original on this electro-ska stomper, creating a bass-heavy dancefloor gem.
ESL Music was a hotbed of creativity that launched the careers of many musicians and producers, many of whom are featured in this collection. Italy’s Nicola Conte reinterprets “Elevated States” with live musicians and jazz orchestration, and the result turns the track into vintage ’70s bossa-soul. France’s Chris Joss conjours an eclectic, afro-funk remix of “Thunder In The Jungle,” with live instrumentation that includes funky guitars, stomping drums and staccato claves. New York’s Ursula 1000 transforms the ’60s rave-up of “Get Up With The Get Down” into a moody, nu-disco banger with dark stabs and phat synths. Longtime ESL studio engineer and soundsmith Desmond Williams reworks “Heart Of The Hustler” into a dubbed out reggae-meets-soul remix, a staple of the early 2000’s downtempo sound. Avatars of Dub – early inductees to the ESL Music roster – remix “This Girl” into a trippy, atmospheric drum’n’bass roller with echoes, delays and retro synths.
Bombay Dub Orchestra upped the ante on their remix of “The Road To Benares” by adding masterful flutes, tablas and strings to the sitar and stand-up bass of the original. “Stereo Tonic” was a big track for Thunderball and two great remixes are included here, the first by UK producer Boca 45 of Dynamo Productions. Boca 45 heaps on loads of dirty-vinyl samples and clips, creating a retro-breaks anthem. Taking the track into a deeper direction is Q-Burns Abstract Message who crafts a swinging, reggae-tinged dub-house groove for the dancefloor.
Not only have these tracks been meticulously culled and combed by Thunderball themsleves they have also been remastered to sound as good today as they were meant to sound when they were created. Declassified: Remixes ranges from dub and downtempo to house and breaks, drum’n’bass and global beats to nu disco… a breadth of genres and soundscapes that can only be: Thunderball.
Funk The World 39
mixed by Thunderball
01 Oscar Brown Jr. – Humdrum Blues (Dj Rebel re-shake)
02 Thunderball – The Panther feat. Mustafa Akbar
03 Eric B and Rakim – Soul To Infinity (Jimi Needles DnB Edit)
04 Drumagick – Brazilian D&B feat Joao Sobral (Vocal Club)
05 DJ Chap – Its Seems Im Never (Chap Inna Space remix)
06 Groove Theory – Tell Me (Al Pack Bootleg)
07 Kool & the Gang – Summer Madness (Rowpieces_bootleg)
08 Ancient Astronauts – Lost In Marrakesh (Pathaan’s Mirage Mix)
09 Fort Knox Five – Mission To The Sitars (Thunderball Remix)
10 See-I – Never Give Up (Thunderball Remix)
11 Mista Savona – Carnival (Ed Solo + Stickybuds Remix)
12 Rafau Etamski – Feel So Shy (Original Mix)
13 All Mode, Bert H, Elix – City Is Waiting feat. Elix (Original Mix)
14 Mr Joseph – Form Me to You
15 Thunderball – Scorpio Rising