Birmingham Whats On Magazine (June 2007)

Bridging the barriers between poetry and music, Birmingham-based Yussef performs stark urban verse over beats infused with hip hop, calypso and reggae, courtesy of backing band MY5.0. Here he picks his top five Here's the tracks that have influenced him the most:

Mavin Gaye: 'What's Going On' (USA) It's a song that asks a question that's still relevant in today's political climate. The song was a big shift from the regular Motown sound and the whole concept of the song and the album of the same name was ground breaking.

Mzwakhe Mbuli: 'Isinamuva' (South Africa) Mzwakhe's voice is very distinctive and his poetic themes deals with real life situations. His delivery is so on target that you'll have no other choice but to listen, while the free-flowing music gets you moving with every pulsating beat.

Brother Valentino: 'Liberation' (Trinidad & Tobago) I remember Brother Valentino giving an acoustic performance [at my school in 1971] that was the most memorable concert that I've ever attended. When he sang Liberation it brought tears to my eyes. The whole black consciousness movement on the island had fostered some of the most up full and heart rendering songs. Brother Valentino was the pioneer of the arts in that era.

Victor Jara: 'Preguntas Por Puerto Montt' (Chile) The song questions the state police massacre of a group of peasants whose only crime was to take over some land in order to live with their families in the southern town of Puerto Montt. Victor Jara had a sort of Bob Dylan like sound. I just love listening to his songs and the way he accompanied himself on the guitar.

Staple Singers: 'When Will We Be Paid For The Work We've Done' (USA) This was released on the Stax record label in the 1960's at the height of the Civil rights movement. Mavis Staple sang lead vocals on this track (like she did on most of the Staple Singers releases) The song tells about the struggle of a people all condenced in 2-3 minuets, with so much depth.Now that was the strength of Soul Music.

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