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Guts, inner journey of a modest and funky beat‑digger

The beat-digging veteran whose crossfader has always oscillated between soul, funk, jazz, reggae and hip-hop offers his best scratch so far with the LP Philanthropiques: 14 homemade productions inspired by 29 years of wild digging, dusting and cutting.

Upon the premiere of the video clip for “Kenke Corner”, shot in Lisbon by Portuguese visual artist Catarina Limão – already the author of the videos for Konono nº1 meets Batida, because Guts loves multiculturalism – PAM wanted to know more about the tropical philanthropism of the French digger traveler.

Guts has felt many grooves in an almost-30-year career. From his key role as a producer for French hip-hop hitmakers Alliance Ethnik in the ‘90s – Respect! – to his 100% “Pura Vida” compilations mischievously playfully Beach Diggin’, besides many collaborations in the most funky circles of hip-hop (De La Soul, Common, Raggasonic, Svinkels, Les Sages Poètes De La Rue, and even The Roots’ Rahzel), and six albums under his own name including this latest delivery that has just hit the racks. Philantropiques, a pun that contains Guts’ malice, humility and utopia, is a well kept promise: the producer is a true philanthropist when it comes to the tropical regions’ cultures, particularly the Caribbean and Africa.

Fabrice Henri aka Guts is one of those precious light-hearted enlightened spirits. Always on the move, in search of any beat that will make his soul groove, the smiling face admitted in an interview with our colleagues from Brain magazine in 2014: “I want to make music that my children can listen to, or that makes you want to make love, to invite your friends to have a drink, to cook a good dish. In short, music to make people want to do simple things, real stuff.” Simple and funky, in short, to quote the lyrics of one of his earliest hit with Parisian major ’90s hip-hop band, the multicultural Alliance Ethnik.

Now let’s talk simple and true: PAM directly asked Guts about the intimate stories that lie behind each of the 14 tracks, and the memories the producer has patiently buried into them. As a true philanthropist, after all.

“Voyaging Bird”

Inspiration: The Challenge, Gayap Rhythm Drummers

I digged this record only a few weeks before starting the production of the Philanthropiques album. This project was financed in 1982 by the Canada Council For The Arts’ Explorations Program. This record is a great inspiration for tropical rhythms and it was the starting point of the track “Voyaging Bird”.


Inspiration : Salalé, Vum Vum

Bonga is certainly the most emblematic Angolan-born artist, yet in the Semba style, Angola’s musical heritage is so huge that along my digging sessions, I came across this deeply emotional album from a relatively unknown artist named Vum Vum. The 1976 track titled “Mucagiami”, with its basic guitar-vocals arrangement was an obvious choice for a cover, and a way to share the existence of this music with the world.

“Já Não Há Mais Paz”

Inspiration: O Samba É A Corda…Os Originais A Caçamba, Os Originais Do Samba

The artistic orientation is completely samba soul and this album of Os Originais Do Samba perfectly illustrates the mutation the Brazilian made to Experience Unlimited’s original track “Peace Gone Away”.

“Daddy Sweet”

Inspiration: Jo TongoJo Tongo

The idea with “Daddy Sweet” was to pay tribute to the explosive afro soul funk of Cameroonian musician Jo Tongo. His first album is an absolute reference in this genre and has greatly inspired us for our collaboration with Pat Kalla.


Inspiration: Dance My Love, Matadi

Matadi is a great band of Paris-based African mercenaries who gathered for a unique and great afro-disco-funk album that inspired me with Toure Haladji’s amazing bass lines. The lead part of “Matadou” is precisely the bass around the which the whole track was composed.

“Nosso Carimbó é do Mundo”

Inspirations: Carimbó E Sirimbó No Embalo Do Pinduca – Vol. 4, Pinduca and Ver-O-Peso, Na Terra Dos Carimbós, Nazaré Pereira

This track was inspired by my favorite song from “carimbó”, a music genre from Brazil’s nordeste region. I first heard the song “Mistura De Carimbó Com Ciranda” during a Tropical Discoteq party and I immediately bought the album Vol.4 by the undisputed carimbó master Pinduca. Of his whole discography, the fourth volume is by far my favorite. Still in the carimbó genre, I discovered Nazaré Pereira’s album Ver-O-Peso, Na Terra Dos Carimbós and I had the idea of associating them on the same track.

“Groove Ma Poule”

Inspiration: Remets T’es Qui ?, DjeuhDjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson

The track “Cupid” from Djeuhdjoah & Nicholson’s debut album is a regular selection in my DJ sets. This song inspired me so much that I had to invite the duo on my new album.

“Sa Cé Kado »

Inspiration: Ah Cant WaitCalypso Rose

As I had already digged Trinidad music heritage especially with my compilations Beach Diggin’, I wanted to make a nod to soca and calypso. The first record that entered my collection is Calypso Rose diva’s album Ah Cant Wait.

“Li Dous Konsa”

Inspiration: Café, Ibo Combo

Haitian music is incredibly rich and some records have become virtually impossible to find, like this amazing album by Ibo Combo. This is one of the hardest records I’ve been digging, and it eventually inspired me for this track.

“Kenke Corner”

Inspiration: Pat Thomas and Marijata, Pat Thomas and Marijata

The idea with “Kenke Corner” was to compose an hymn to Ghana’s highlife. This 1977 Pat Thomas album was recorded at legendary studio EMI Lagos and I always go back to it when it comes to highlife music.

“Shake It and Rise Up”

Inspiration: Funky Disco MusicEko

This afro disco track makes me think of the records of the famous Cameroonian composer and singer Eko Roosevelt Louis, and especially the LP Funky Disco Music.

“Bougé Bagay La”

Inspiration: Jah Soldier, General Ehi Duncan And The Africa Army Express 

“Bougé Bagay La” is a Nigeria-music inspired improvisation we’ve done in the studio. The song I’m referring to here – that I always play in my DJ sets – is featured on the rarest and most awaited album of my wantlist: an incredible track titled “Africa”.

“Sénou Menm”

Inspiration: HypocrisieLes Vikings de la Guadeloupe

This track is clearly inspired by the music of the West Indies and one of the archipelago’s essential bands: Les Vikings de la Guadeloupe. My favorite album of the combo’s discography is Hypocrisie with its great artwork.

Read next: 5 Nigerian classic albums of the 70s