With blasting Afro-beat horn lines, a funky rhythm section, clever samples and lyrics that cut to the point of the major issues in our world, Elephants by Mother Tareka & the Rebel Funktion is music for movement and action. Mother Tareka (a.k.a. Tarek Funk) is a Syrian-Palestinian saxophonist and emcee. Funk grew up in Damascus but his family were Palestinians displaced in 1948 during the Nakba. He moved with his family to Canada in 1999 and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Elephants is the group’s second album.
The title is a reference to the “elephants in the room”—as it were—obscured and deodorized; imperialism and war (“The First Elephant”), racism (“Worlds Apart Part 2”) indigenous struggles and land defenders (“Water Fight”). The album ends with “No One but Us”, where Funk sings in a call and response style, “No one will free us but us.”
Funk’s influences range from funk, hip-hop, Afrobeat and Arabic poetry. The breadth of styles adds several layers to Elephants. It’s not simply hip-hop with Afro-beat horn lines or a funk rhythm section with rapping overtop; instead, each style plays a role in forming the overall sound.
Adding to this are the 20 musicians, DJs and emcees who appear on the record. Collaboration is a major theme on Elephants and in the general sound of the Rebel Funktion. Like Funk’s influences melting and mixing together, the collaborators all fit into a wider whole that creates a product which is far more then the sum of its parts.
Elephants is the perfect soundtrack for the times we live in. It has a clearheaded understanding of the problems humanity faces and a vision for a better world.
Learn out more about Mother Tareka & the Rebel Funktion here.