Balkan Beat Box at The UC Theatre
For over a decade now, ambassadors of groove Balkan Beat Box have kept the world party bumping with deft and exuberant stylistic cross-pollination, and a smoldering lyrical flow. With each entry in its oeuvre, BBB has crafted wildly imaginative grenades of enlightenment and garnered critical acclaim, an engaged fanbase, and earned the respect and admiration of other artists. The collective's latest dance missive, Shout It Out, is an epiphanic entry in its five-album catalog. It's an album of personal reflection ensconced in fiery creativity--it's both anthemic and introspective. Musically, Shout It Out, also represents a fascinating crate digging production breakthrough in terms of crafting that perfectly exotic sonic Molotov cocktail. "We are known to be that band to shout out things that bother us, but this time we went inward and more personal. This album is us revealing who we are as people and what's going on in our personal life," says percussionist and producer Tamir Muskat. BBB draw from their Eastern European heritage, the smash-your-idols traditions of punk rock and free jazz, the undeniably rugged beats and production of hip-hop, the intrepid textural approach of electro, along with international flairs of Mediterranean, reggae, cumbia, Morrocan, and Balkan music traditions. What comes out of this bold cross-cultural and pan-genre discourse is a soundtrack for riots in the streets and a rallying call for the dance floor. Balkan Beat Box coalesced in the mid 2000s around the core trio of saxophonist Ori Kaplan, percussionist Tamir Muskat, and singer Tomer Yosef. Each of the three musicians in BBB is a visionary with a distinct perspective essential to the BBB vibe. Together in BBB, the trio, plus an extended family of trusted collaborators, have issued five vibrantly varied albums. Their work has been sampled by Jason Derulo, rapper Mac Miller (produced by Diplo), collaborated with Stargate and Fifth Harmony, and their music most recently appeared in FIFA 17 and in the Andy Samberg movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. In addition, as a collective and individually, members of BBB have worked with platinum-certified artist Asaf Avidan, Yemeni singing trio A-WA, and had placements in Hollywood feature films. The BBB album catalog represents a profound artistic continuum that's high on concept, politics, and authenticity. Each album pulsates with undeniable grooves and its own distinct spirit. Shout It Out represents an intriguing time for BBB. When the core trio gathered in the studio, they found themselves favoring personal lyrics, minimalist production, and a watershed method of creating that involved playing together freely with their close-knit group of musical collaborators for three days straight and then sampling the best bits. Much like a crate digger building tracks from vintage vinyl, they pored over hours and hours of jams seeking choice grooves and bold textures. "A lot of weird stuff came out," allows saxophonist Ori Kaplan. "We would listen to jams and go 'oh, here's a moment, let's sample it!" and build a track from four bars. " After two weeks of these finding-a-needle-in-a-haystack excursions, BBB crafted the tracks on Shout It Out, using personal experience, and memoir as fodder for thought-provoking lyrics. Each track offers forth its own story, and album highlights include "I Trusted U," the title track, "Chin Chin,", "Kum Kum (feat. A - WA)" and "Give it a Tone". "I Trusted U's rowdy folk-reggae vibe offers a refreshingly playful approach to its narrative of a relationship plagued by ego issues. Only BBB could make an anthem of self expression like "Shout It Out" with empowering rhymes delivered over glitchy electronic textures and twitchy hip-hop grooves. The grimy funk of "Chin Chin" is vintage BBB, a purposeful party track warning against the allure of urban bling. The infectious "Kum Kum" brims with rugged hip-hop beats, a burly swagger of male vocals paired with sassy and sensual female vocals. Shout It Out, is a masterwork entry in a decade-long dialogue of three visionaries. Reflecting on the secret to keeping BBB inspired, Tamir Muskat says: "We've been able to create this hub of art where we can go into a room, search deep within our souls, and create together. The real mojo behind BBB is our relationships as friends. It's been an amazing journey."