WU’s Best of 2011

Countdown to the 2012 WU Year!

Join us for the next 12 days as we countdown the new year with a staff list of BEST OF 2011. What follows is an epic list of our favorite discoveries this year. From films to Twitter to musical melanges, this is one list not to miss. We might even inspire you in that last minute search for the perfect gift.

Be sure to check in everyday for a new staff favorite in line with our mission to make the world smaller through hip hop, technology and education.


December 31, 2011

Best of International Hip Hop: We end our list with the best international hip hop 2011 list. Check out what we’ve been grooving to all year long!

The (w)Rap Up- 21 Dopest International Hip Hop Tracks of 2011:

1. Anita Tijoux - Shock

2. Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaiman (Prod. by Sami Matar) - #Jan25 Egypt

3. Baloji feat. Konono N°1 - Karibu Ya Bintou

4. Raka Dun (Los Rakas) - Sueño Americano

5. Blitz the Ambassador ft. V.I.P. - Akwaaba (Remix)

6. Lowkey feat. Shadia Mansour - Too Much

7. Calle 13 - Latinoamérica

8. Krussia- Satellites

9. Lupe Fiasco feat. Skylar Grey - Words I Never Said

10. Ceza - Sen de Biraz Delisin

11. The Lo Frequency feat. Malikah, Edd & Chyno of FareeQ El Atrash, MC ZeineDin, Ram 6 - Traditions

12. Zero Plastica - Il Colore Della Terra

13. Mandeep Sethi - Cagebird

14. Nneka - My Home

15. Deeb - Masrah Deeb (prod by Gen K Official)

16. Chocquibtown - Somos Pacifico

17. Driemanskap Ft. Siya - I Will Make It

18. The Narcicyst - Brass

19. Nitty Scott MC - Auntie Maria’s crib

20. Akua Naru - Mo(u)rning & The World Is Listening

21. Oddisee - The Carter Barron


December 30, 2011

The lovely Ariam shares her favorite WU moments of the year!

The Best WU Late night grind work: 

Best World Up Retweet:

Best WU Outreach:


December 29, 2011

Peep Danielle’s favorite!

Best Mixtape: Blu & Exile “Give Me My Flowers” Although many noteworthy mixtapes dropped year, we’de be hard pressed to find one better than this.


December 28, 2011

We continue the countdown with Ari’s favorite of the year!

Best Photographer: Jamel Shabazz. 2011 marked the release of Shabazz’s 10th Anniversary edition of his classic “Back in the Days,” re-released by Powerhouse Arena books. If you’re unfamiliar with Shabazz (as I was before this year), you should know that he’s responsible for many of the most iconic images of the early days of hip hop. For a sneak peak, check out this New York Times slideshow.


December 27, 2011

Only 4 more to go! Check Ebenezer’s pick!

Best Live Shows:

1. The Roots at the Intrepid

2. Portishead at All Tomorrow’s Parties

3. Amon Tobin at the Masonic Temple

4. Lupe Fiasco at the Bass Island Festival

5. People’s Champs X Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew at Recess Part Deux


December 26, 2011

Carol shares her favorite!

Best interview: If there’s a Struggle, Hip Hop Will Be There - The El Deeb Exclusive. It was really exciting and informative to not only speak with someone who is at the forefront of the Arab Spring movement in Egypt, but who is also an influential part and MC of the revolution. His love for hip hop and social equality was thoughtful and inspiring. The language of hip hop is truly spoken with the same passion and vigor in all cultures it touches.

With a prophetic song that dropped days after the revolution sparked in Egypt, MC El Deeb is an exemplar of World Up’s mission to use hip hop to fuel social change. We chatted with him shortly after about the “Arab Spring,” Egypt’s upcoming elections in September, and a unity felt with hip hop artists worldwide surrounding the cause.


“Because the state that we were living in before the revolution, you could end up anywhere, you could end up in prison and no one would know anything about you, for speaking against the government. But when I went down, I felt like it was the right decision to go down and then suddenly I got this adrenaline rush. I felt myself becoming involved in the uprising since day one.” -El Deeb


December 25, 2011

We continue with Valerie’s favorite!

Best bling: The WUdalion. This beauty speaks for itself!


December 24, 2011

Today, we check Eric’s pick!

Best table: Ari’s handmade table. WU is all about making something great with the tools around you.  It is how we view hip hop and what we try to pass on to those around us so we can learn from one another.  While at first glance, WU Digital Technologies Director Ari’s table may not seem very “hip-hop,” his approach to building it (and life in general) certainly is.  Ari looked at the resources around him. Remixed them. And out popped a table that would make CB2 designers jealous.  Ari’s table gets my vote in the best of 2011 category for his steadfast approach to DIY.


December 23, 2011

We continue the countdown with Laura‘s pick!

Best Love Letter to Hip Hop: Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest. Michael Rapaport’s documentary on the feel-good group from New York brings together members of De la Soul, the Roots, the Beastie Boys, and a veritable who’s who of a whole hip hop generation, to salute Tribe for paving the way for conscious records. Tribe’s work over the last two decades, as well as much of what’s highlighted in the film, speaks to our mission at World Up while reminding us that at our core we are all fans. Plus, the storyline laced with intra-Tribe drama helps shows just how much each member has given over the years.
“Filmed at the 2008 Rock the Bells tour and a subsequent trip to Japan, “Beats, Rhymes, & Life,” bears evidence to the group’s persistent hold on popular imagination. Tens of thousands of fans still know the words to Tribe songs, and promoters continue to pay top dollar for bookings. And despite the acrimony among members captured behind closed doors, their onstage chemistry remains.” - The Los Angeles Times 


December 22, 2011

Check out Hannah‘s pick!

Best new musical genre: Moombahton. Born from Dave Nada’s musical genius while spinning his kid cousin’s “skip day” party the genre blends reggaeton, dutch house, dancehall, cumbia and whatever else falls in the mix. The mostly Latino high school crowd wasn’t feeling the amped up club music he was spinning, so he slowed down an Afrojack remix of  “Moombah,” by DJ Chuckie and Silva Cuomo, to a crawling 108 bpm and overlayed a reggaeton beat in order to give them what they wanted. Hence Moombahton was born.

It’s even generated subgenres — Moombahsoul, Moombahcore, and the list goes on. The genre is also unique because it didn’t just start in one place, like dupstep in London, it literally took root all across the world within a matter of months. Moombahton will no doubt get you on the floor even if reggaeton bumping from tricked out car speakers is the farthest thing from your idea of entertainment.


December 21, 2011

Today, we check out Agnes’ pick!

Best Twitter handle: #hiphoped. Curated by revolutionary educators and leaders- Chris Emdin, Timothy Jones, Brandon Frame, Amil Cook, Courtney Hardwick and Sam Seidel, #hiphoped explores different topics in hip hop education and beyond. This weekly gathering of educators, artists, individuals and innovators delves deep into subjects like ‘Increasing student resilience and perseverance through hip-hop’ and ‘How does hip-hop contribute to and challenge the cradle to prison pipeline.’ The most amazing thing about #hiphoped? It’s not just talking about the issues, it’s about going deeper- it’s building partnerships and alliances, and exploring solutions. It’s about making positive change happen though hip hop.
Interested? Join the fam every Tuesday at 9pm EST by tweeting using the #hiphoped hashtag.



December 20, 2011

We start things off with Aaron’s pick!

Best cookbook: Rice and Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking, written by Skiz Fernando of the seminal Brooklyn record label WordSound Recordings. He also makes and distributes Skiz’s Original Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder, simply incredible. Claim to fame? He was Anthony Bourdain’s guide for the Sri Lanka episode of No Reservations!

“Growing up on this food, which we have always referred to as “rice & curry,” I have been privy to this secret. But whenever I share it with others they become instant fans. Just like the hip-hop music of my youth, which I exposed in one of the first serious books on the artform, The New Beats: Exploring The Music, Culture & Attitudes of Hip-Hop (Anchor/Doubleday, 1994), I feel like I am now shining a light on Sri Lankan food, and that people are ready to accept it.”

Dec 20th, 2011

August Summer Music Guide 2011!

World Up’s Summer Music Guide, August edition, is here again to bring you all the artists that inspire us (and hopefully you as well!). Click the link below to download the August installment now, for sounds from favorites like Ana Tijoux (Chile), Spoek Mathambo (South Africa), Gilles Peterson and the 14th Annual Black August Hip Hop show. While this is mostly focused on events happening in NYC, we include other great events around the globe and are constantly updating it (if we missed something drop us a line* and let us know). Be sure to stay tuned for updates and more shows beyond August.

* email us at info [at] worldup [dot] org

DOWNLOAD HERE (right click)


Aug 3rd, 2011

PANAMA ON BLAST! East 4th Sessions: Los Rakas

A few months ago we interviewed Los Rakas, one of our favorite new groups coming out of California who are also reppin Panama hard. If you are in NYC, they happen to be playing tomorrow night 7/21/11 at “The Spot” a Heineken and Remezcla (one of our favorite guides to to hot music) sponsored thing…in case you miss em there you can check em on the mainstage at SummerStage on 8/20/11… DONT MISS THEM! you’ll be sorry when they blow up and you stayed at home…. just sayin.

Check em:


video shot by: Mikey Cordero

editing by: Craig Nisperos



Jul 20th, 2011

July Summer Music Guide 2011!

World Up’s Summer Music Guide, July edition. is here again to bring you all the artists that inspire us (and hopefully you as well!). Click the link below to download the July installment now, for sounds from favorites like Baloji (Congo), ChocQuibTown (Colombia), Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and Marcelo D2 (Brazil) . While this is mostly focused on events happening in NYC, we include other great events around the globe and are constantly updating it (if we missed something drop us a line* and let us know). Be sure to stay tuned for the August guide as the summer continues.

* email us at info [at] worldup [dot] org

DOWNLOAD HERE (right click)


Jul 1st, 2011

June Summer Music Guide 2011!

World Up’s Summer Music Guide, June edition. is here again to bring you all the artists that inspire us (and hopefully you as well!). Click the link below to download the June installment now, for sounds from favorites like Blitz the Ambassador, Ana Tijoux, Reggie Watts and Theophilus London. While this is mostly NYC focused we include other great events around the globe and are constantly updating it (if we missed something drop us a line* and let us know). Be sure to stay tuned for the July and August guides as the summer continues.

* email us at info [at] worldup [dot] org

DOWNLOAD HERE (right click)


Jun 7th, 2011

East 4th Sessions: Ana Tijoux

We are crazy about Chilean MC, Ana Tijoux. She has finally been blowing up recently with nods from all sorts of people like Tiny Desk Concerts
A little while ago she stopped through NYC on tour and we had a few minutes to pick her brain for our East 4th Sessions.


East 4th Sessions: Ana Tijoux from World Up on Vimeo.


Sep 24th, 2010

World Up Exclusive Interview: Quadron of Denmark

Photo Credit : blog.fairtilizer.com

The evocative sound of this Danish pair, Coco Owusu and Robin Hannibal, comes by way of Coco’s youthful exuberance, dynamic stage presence, and sultry vocals, collab-ing with Robin, who often doesn’t perform with Quadron, darting back and forth from the sound board to perfect their full-bodied melodies. The duo brings intelligent, focused, and playful aural consciousness to listeners, leaving a goosebumpy and emotional crowd in their wake. WU saw this firsthand as Quadron performed tracks from their self-titled debut album at Southpaw this June, and we got the chance to speak with the Danish duo about the meaning of “Quadron,” their love of body painting, and plans to reinvent the electronic soul scene on their first American tour.

Coco: This is Coco and Robin, and we’re chillin with World Up.

WU: How did Quadron come about, and how is your sound is distinct from the Boom Clap Bachelors?

Robin: We kind of grew out of Boom Clap Bachelors or it came about while working on songs for BCP. The distinction between those in English [versus] BCP in Danish, is it’s probably more directly soul influenced. Whereas BCP is a mix of different things, [from] different people. Me and Coco found a common ground, which was soul, and we like to explore that.

WU: How did you come to call yourselves Quadron?

Co: There is a certain point in a music relationship where you have to figure out a name, when you realize that you are a real group. I don’t even remember the other ideas. I know we talked about calling ourselves Robin and Coco or Coco and Robin and we talked about calling us, my biological grandfather was African and his name was Orino, and we would call us Orino and Hannibal but that would be [hard to understand], I think. So we had to find something we had in common. And the word Quadron means being a quarter black and Robin’s grandfather is African American and my grandfather was African so that makes us Quadrons and we think it’s a beautiful word also written and we are proud of our heritage.

WU: Can you talk about some of the tribal imagery used in your album?

Co: I would love to talk about that. Nobody asks us about that.

Ro: How long do you have?

Co: Denmark is still interested to know about people’s backgrounds. If people have dark hair or have curls or look anything besides blond and Danish, then people always ask where they’re from. I’ve always been very interested in Africa, maybe because my biological grandfather was African and I never met him, but also just because I think Africa is hot, and I think the Masai painting is very, very cool, and jewelry as well. It fit well to the name Quadron to have something taken from African, because I think what they did was to try to make more Indian tribal. For me it’s still African. I think it’s hot.

Ro: We all came from Africa.

WU: There are so many tracks on your album that are extremely evocative “Day” being one of them. Can you talk about what this song means to you?

Co: It means different things each time, I think. It’s nice, the song didn’t have any specific personal emotions, like pointed on a person for instance, or a specific day, it’s more like an ode to the day-to-day. You can put different meanings in it every time you listen to it. People who listen to the song would all think different things, because we didn’t spell [out] what the song is about. It’s very simple, the lyrics. So all the emotions can be what the listener would feel. Or they can try and figure out what we feel. For me it changes from performing it or listening to it. Sometimes I try to remember what I thought of when I recorded it, but it’s still fresh.

WU: It doesn’t seem like Copenhagen has much of a soul scene, how has Quadron been received?

Ro: Really well I think, taking into consideration that there really isn’t a scene for the music. There are people who like it and there’s foreign artists dropping by playing at some of the bigger venues. There is an audience but it’s nothing like other genres like rock, pop, or electronic music. It’s like a minority in Denmark, in that regard people really accepted it and have taken it into their hearts. We’ve been really well-received, [our music has been] played a lot and we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play at really nice venues and get good press. Especially because it’s our debut album, its always easier the second time around.

WU: Coco, you’ve mentioned that your major influences are Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill, these influences are apparent in your sultry vocals. How do you anticipate being received by American audiences?

Co: I was really scared. There is a mess of talent in the US of soul singers, female vocalists. It’s always been unreal for me growing up wanting to be a major superstar and coming from such a little country. I always thought about which approach should I do to make it. Should I meet a very dope producer in the US? Should I get married to an American? How can I make it? At one point, when you stop caring about it, you start to get into just wanting to make good music and that is the key. That’s why some people make it and some people don’t. It’s all about the songs that they write or perform. That’s why Lauryn Hill made it instead of another girl in a church. Maybe the vocal talent is equal but it’s all about song-writing. It kind of calmed me down when I got frustrated about so many good talents out there, that we’re different, we’re from Denmark. I didn’t grow up with the whole church soul background so when you stop trying to be like them, it’s nice.

WU: What is your creative process?

Ro: It’s very different and it’s changing all the time. There’s always a period of getting to know each other, working out how you get the best result. It’s like every other thing, trial and error. You try this approach and see how it works and try this approach and see how it works. When I look at all the songs most have a different approach or started in a different way. Now we’ve collected all these experiences, now we know how to get to that result, or what we like doing and how we like doing it. For this time around, we both really feel it’s an emotional record. You should always challenge yourself and try to make it even more personal and emotional and now we’ve found a way to do everything together or get close to doing everything together and that way it’s even more a collaborative, emotional effort. We’re actually starting in the same place and going to the end result together.

Co: We go straight to the emotions now because all of the practical stuff, we kind of know how each other…we don’t have to keep bumping into the same walls of disagreements and a way to do things.

Ro: It’s a trust thing, I think, also. At some point you trust the other person, you’ve seen the end result and you know how that process was. You come to a point where you just trust the other person. I know she’ll get there or I know this idea will work because she pulled it off last time, she can do it. I shouldn’t be worried about it and hopefully it’s the same the other way around and then you feel like he’s got it or she’s got it. And that helps a lot too.

WU: Your music has been compared to groups like Little Dragon and Lykke Li, how do you feel about these comparisons?

Co: We like them. I was definitely a fan of Little Dragon before we were compared to them. Robin introduced me to them. The song ‘Fortune’ is one of his favorite songs. I bought the record after we were compared to them I wanted to check it out. I think they’re great. They’re really great. I’m proud of all of them being from Scandinavia. Lykke Li is just…after I saw “New Moon” three times on the airplane I want to buy her album too. When you’re from Scandinavia, it’s like, “but they’re from Sweden we want to see what’s going on in The States.” And now we keep getting compared to them, so it’s like “oh, yeah.”

Ro: I think it’s nice also because there are some similarities. There is the accent thing, the part of where we’re coming from Scandinavia, maybe more open approach to other genres and fusing them, very the same but also very different. Also sometimes I’ve heard it right after each other, it is very different the approach and the way it’s put together. Everything stands on its own but it also Scandinavian.

Co: I would love to meet them, all of them are ahead of us and it would be nice to share experiences.

WU: So as I mentioned before World Up is an organization that believes that music can be used as a tool to bring social awareness and change, particularly in young people. As an artist do you feel that it is your responsibility to create music that’s socially aware or conscious?

Ro: Definitely. Without a doubt. I don’t think that it’s always something you think of in the process, and I think there needs to be creative freedom and freedom of speech and I don’t think it always [has] to be politically correct, but I think you should be aware of what you’re doing.

By Stephanie Riederman and Valerie Ellois


Jul 22nd, 2010

On Rotation: BlackMahal - The “Punjabi-Hip-Hop-Jazz-Funk Experience”

Cultivating their talents in the mist of San Francisco Bay, BlackMahal brings together myriad
cultural influences to produce a truly unique sound. With traditional Indian classics blended
into funk beats, this group takes hip hop to a whole new level.

Percussionist and vocalist Lal Singh Bhatti is known in his homeland as the “Godfather” of
the Dhol drum (a 15th century instrument from the Punjab region). Together with Vijay
Chattha (a well-known hip hop Dj from the Bay area), he is the foundation of BlackMahal.
With the addition of Balwinder Singh Bhatti, Jon Cook, Mandeep Sethi, J-Slim, Tim Chang and
Satish Pillai, BlackMahal has become the non-stop Punjabi-hip-hop machine that it is today.
For more information on the crew or to give them a listen, visit their website or Myspace.


Jul 22nd, 2010

Watch this Now: Caramba by Nomadic Massive’s Own Lou Piensa

French, English, Portuguese and Spanish might sound like course offerings in your college’s language department, but they’re also mother tongues you can hear in the new track “Caramba” by Lou Piensa, one part of Montreal’s supergroup Nomadic Massive. This World Up favorite continues repping cross-cultural exchange through his music, as a solo act and in the global collective. Check the special guests Rael da Rima of Pentagono and Gaspar from Z’Africa Brasil.

Big up to Tr3ze Producoes!


Jul 21st, 2010

Redefining Street Art - Blu

We’ve been watching BLU for a while but this is by far the most fantastical and lengthy piece of street art ever. Wonderful!


Jul 14th, 2010

About Us Founded in 2004, World Up is a non-profit organization (501c3 pending) dedicated to educating the public about international cultures, and issues that affect the global community through modern Global Urban Music Through our ongoing events, educational programming, and our annual music festival, we are actively promoting and fostering diversity, cross-cultural understanding, and social change through Hip-Hop culture. World Up is run by a group of volunteers who come from diverse backgrounds and cultures but share a deep love for Hip-Hop and how it is used as a tool for social and political change. We have a well established network of artists, DJ´s, MC´s, Film makers, promoters, activists, and the like around the globe.