For those of you who who haven't heard of Brian Shimkovitz'sblog, Awesome Tapes from Africa, it's definitely worth a visit. Armed with an extensive cassette collection garnered from several trips to the continent in the early 2000s, plus a flow of contributions from friends and followers of the blog, New York based Shimkovitz dedicates his virtual life to uploading music that 'you won't easily find anywhere else - except, perhaps in its region of origin'. Alongside the audio you can get a glimpse of the cassette covers, and usually a brief comment of informative opinion about the music from Shimkovitz himself.
What started off as as a hobby in 2006 has now entrenched itself as an all-consuming project, and five years on from the establishment of the Awesome Tapes blog, Shimkovitz is making is first release through his own record label. As noted in a Guardian article for which Shimkovitz interviewed, this month he will be putting out on vinyl, CD and digital download a record by Malian singer Nâ Hawa Doumbia called 'La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 3', made in Abidjan in Ivory Coast in 1982.
While the proceeds of this release will be split fifty/fifty with Nâ Hawa Doumbia, an endeavour such as Shimkovitz's certainly raises issues regarding artistic ownership, copyright and payment, alongside wider questions of a Western-centred cultural imperialism (a quick glance at the comments section of the Guardian article reveals some strong opinions). Debates aside, the music is great, so get exploring!