(Photo- Reproduction) Fela Kuti
(Photo: Reproduction)

From big beat to hip-hop; from hip-hop to soul-jazz and funk; from funk to African rhythms, with an obligatory passage through the irreproachable work of the Nigerian Fela Kuti: in short, the initial trajectory of the musical researcher Frédéric Thiphagne, can thus be reconstituted. In 2008, the Frenchman from Lyon, who lived from 2009 to 2011 in Paris, started the blog Les Mains Noires (in free translation the black hands: lesmainsnoires.blogspot.com). In it, Thiphagne explores his two main interests: sharing treasures from his musical mining and publishing interviews with other researchers, when he has the possibility to produce portraits of these characters in their habitats.

Reproduction of the LP “Sorrow, Tears and Blood”, by Fela Kuti
Reproduction of the LP “Sorrow, Tears and Blood”, by Fela Kuti

Upon arriving in Brazil at the end of 2011, and faced with the high cost of reissues of historic LPs and imported compacts, Thiphagne decided to open a distribution label, Goma Gringa, to import works from European and American record labels. When dealing with the bureaucratic and tributary impasses of the Brazilian customs, he concluded that, no matter how noble its mission, it would be buried in the common grave of commercial infeasibility. “In Brazil, I found that reissues cost three or four times the amount charged in Europe. Something that shocked me, because disco is culture and Brazil has always known that, so much so that there was this phrase stamped on the back cover of albums released here. For me, cultural products have to be as affordable as possible. In Ethiopia, I think, discs should be free. It is a people that has the richest musical culture, but that, ironically, cannot consume its own culture.”

With the decline of import plans and the arrival of a new partner, Goma Gringa began to see other horizons. Thiphagne joined his first client in the country, fellow countryman and musician Matthieu Hebrard, who has lived in Brazil for 12 years. Trained in cello and acoustic bass in Paris, Hebrard has consolidated partnerships with Brazilians and is now preparing to release an album with the Quebrante project, in which he plays bass, sings and shares compositions with Thiago França, Marcelo Cabral and DJ Will Robinson. . The affinity between Thiphagne and Hebrard soon pointed to more long-lasting paths for the label, with an apparently simple decision: if importing the discs would raise the cost so much, why not produce them here? And the realization of such an idea is a ground zero in style. After negotiating with the musician's family (who died in 1997), Goma Gringa will be the first label to produce in Brazil an album by the father of afrobeat, Fela Kuti, the emblematic Sorrow, Tears and Blood, originally released in 1971 by the label Kalakuta Records.

The reissue reproduces the original art and brings two good surprises: an enclosed poster and the recording of the title track of the album, with a 16-minute arrangement (the original is 10'16”). The recording was specially granted by Fela's family. Another good news is that Goma Gringa intends to establish a two-way street and launch Brazilian artists through the labels it represents here. This is the case of the German artist Analog Africa, who commissioned Thiphagne to produce a double LP collection with the best of the seventies production of carimbó, a genre from Pará that has been immortalized by artists such as the patron Mestre Verequete and Pinduca. In time: although the French know the slang “goma” (which means house) the name of the label is the sum of shellac, raw material of the extinct 78 rpm compacts, and the origin of the works that it proposes to release .

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