Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s Bach-Fest Folklore Journey


“Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.”

This saying (often wrongly attributed to John F. Kennedy) echoed in my head as I listened to The Beat Bach Symphonies, the new hip-hop mashup featuring world and classical music, designed by Grammy winner Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. The project presents the Asheville, North Carolina Symphony and a number of international artists representing West Africa, Peru, Japan, Egypt and the North American nation of Cherokee.
‘The Beat Bach Symphonies’ by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
After seven full albums, 14 EPs, a vinyl record and a pair of books, Cactus (Skidoo) needed new mountains to climb. Fortunately, he found a host of guides from different cultures, excited to share their folk stories and incorporate them into the music in his head, for this tour based on melodies by the German Baroque composer. Johann Sebastian Bach. Cactus’ thesis associated folk tales with structurally similar Bach melodies. With the help of his collaborators, they crafted the lyrics to stay true to their origins, merging native instrumentation with modern hip-hop rhythms.

Rather than respectfully borrowing the musical styles of these individual musicians and storytellers, Cactus invited them to his playground. Recognizing that these stories originated from their societies, Cactus took on the guest role and left his co-authors behind. – composers deliver the stories. The diverse cast of The Beat Bach Symphonies features Iranian-American rapper E-Turn (“Chasing Dreams”), Cherokee Nation storyteller John John Grant Jr. (flute and narration on “Origin Story”) and Peruvian rapper QosqoRuna (“Graveyard Shift”), between other.

There is a limited amount of story content that can be handed out in a four-minute frame, while still retaining all of its meaningful message. “Chasing Dreams” is a Middle Eastern tale dating back over 1,000 years. Peruvian folklore is examined in “Graveyard Shift”, as a young woman uses a cemetery to test her suitors. The 2020 pandemic is lightly touched on in “Origin Story,” a Cherokee fable about planetary disease and how humanity responds to it. Can you steal a delicious smell? This is the subject of the comic “Common Scents” based in West Africa. Japanese legend “Looking Back” concludes the lyrical section of the release, with koto player Kozue Matsumoto nostalgically recounting how the power of love transcends death and helps us survive through hard times. The five original pieces are followed by instrumentals that allow listeners to hear the full scope of the arrangements.

Cactus just dips its toe into the multicultural pool with The Beat Bach Symphonies. His master’s thesis is a comprehensive program for elementary school children that he hopes to roll out in September. He has already recorded a nursery rhyme writing workshop (with worksheets and rhythms) and intends to come up with lesson plans where children can hear the artists talk firsthand about how their various upbrings cultural influences have shaped their storytelling and musical sensibility. We can all celebrate the release of new music for Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Cactus shares the success of The Beat Bach Symphonies with a large group of people from all over the world. It’s not classic, it’s just classy.

The Beat Bach Symphonies is available from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s website, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Apple Music.

Here is the video of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo for his song “Young Soul”:

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About Dawn Valle

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