Ten years ago, Sena and her band made long the journey from Accra in Ghana, to Budapest, Hungary to play at a festival. Sena never thought anything of it at the time when she agreed to the booking. Granted she was excited to be playing at such a prestigious festival. However, she never thought that that festival in Budapest would change her life.

When Sena arrived in Budapest in 2005, the festival was taking place in the centre of the city. This was fitting. Budapest has a rich and illustrious musical past. It gave the world composers Alexander Laszlo, Ignác Mihályi, Miklós Rózsa, Franz von Vecsey and Thomas Rajna. In this city steeped in musical history,  a chance meeting with a modern day “composer” DJ Vadim.

By then, DJ Vadim was one of the biggest names in hip hop. He was an experienced DJ and producer. Already DJ Vadim had released five albums. However, his last album was 2002s U.S.S.R. The Art of Listening. This was the last instalment in the groundbreaking U.S.S.R. quartet. Since then, constantly crisscrossing the globe DJ-ing. It seemed DJ Vadim was concentrating on DJ-ing. He was determined to spread the hip hop gospel far and wide. Budapest was the latest date in his schedule. 

Backstage, musicians and DJs mingle and network. That’s when DJ Vadim met Sena. It was the start of a ten year friendship, where the pair collaborated on various projects. The latest is DJ Vadim and Sena’s new album Grow Slow, which is out on BBE Music, on 15th June 2015. It’s the result of a ten year journey that began in 2005.

Back in 2005, Sena Dagadu called Accra, Ghana’s capital city home. That was where her career as a singer and songwriter began.

Sena had released her debut album First One in 2003. Gradually, she began spreading her wings, as she tried to make a musical breakthrough with her first collaboration. 

This was in 2004, when Sena added the vocal to Endlessly’s  single Anorganic. Soon, one collaboration became two.

Then a year later, Sena collaborated with Marcell Dudás on the single Change Colours Again. Sena wrote the lyrics and added the vocal. It was released on the Cookin’ Vinyl label in 2005. For many people, this was the first they had heard of Sena Dagadu. However, her future collaborator DJ Vadim was already an experienced DJ and producer.

After founding his own record company Jazz Fudge in 1994, DJ Vadim released his debut album Headz Ain’t Ready in 1995. That was the year DJ Vadim signed to Ninja Tunes, who he released four albums for, between 1996 and 2002. 

Having signed to Ninja Tunes in 1995, DJ Vadim released four albums between 1996 and 2002. These albums are referred to as the U.S.S.R. quartet. The U.S.S.R. quartet established DJ Vadim’s reputation as a innovative DJ, who was constantly pushing the musical boundaries and determined to reinvent his music. His Ninja Tunes’ debut was 1996s U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory of Verticality). Two years later, U.S.S.R. Reconstruction (Theories Explained) followed in 1998. Then in 1999s DJ Vadim released U.S.S.R. Life From the Other Side. After U.S.S.R. Life From the Other Side, another three years passed before DJ Vadim released another album.

During this three year period, DJ Vadim didn’t turn his back on production. He released several singles. This included 2000s Your Revolution, and then Bang Y2 and Up To Ja in 2002. Later in 2002, DJ Vadim released the final instalment in the U.S.S.R. quartet, U.S.S.R. The Art of Listening. This brought to an end what’s perceived as a groundbreaking quartet of albums. However, having released four albums in six years for Ninja Tunes, it would be another five years before DJ Vadim released another album. When he did, a new voice could be heard, Sena Dagadu.

Five years after releasing the last in the U.S.S.R. quartet, DJ Vadim returned with the Soundcatcher album Talk To Me. It was the first of DJ Vadim’s projects to feature Sena Dagadu. She played her part in album which caught the attention of critics, and Giles Peterson. For DJ Vadim and Sena, this looked like the start of a successful musical partnership. The Soundcatcher Extras following later in 2007. Then tragedy struck for DJ Vadim in 2007. 

He was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, Ocular Melanoma. Thankfully, DJ Vadim recovered from Ocular Melanoma. Two years later, in 2009, DJ Vadim made his comeback. 

By then, Sena had released an album with her band Hungarian band Irie Maffia. Fel A Kezekkel! was released in 2007 and proved to be a genre defying album. Reggae and dancehall is combined with hip hop, funk and rock. Unfortunately, Irie Maffia didn’t have a record company behind them, so had to self-release Fel A Kezekkel!. By the time Irie Maffia released their sophomore album, they would have a record company behind them. Before that, Sena had a lot of music to make.

For the next couple of years, everyone wanted to work with Sena. She collaborated with everyone from Refractory, DJ Cadik, Realistic Crew, Lotek,  Zagar, Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra and Nightmares On Wax. It seemed word was spreading about Sena’s vocal prowess. Meanwhile, DJ Vadim was now fully recovered.

After two years away, DJ Vadim was ready to make his a comeback with a new album, U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun. It was released on BBE Music, and was a glimpse of what hip hop had been missing for the past two years.Then two years later, after further collaborations, plenty of globe-trotting DJ-ing trips, came DJ Vadim’s ninth album. Before that, Sena had another album to release.

This was Irie Maffia’s sophomore album What’s My Name? It was released on Shiftin’ Gears Records, in 2010.  Irie Maffia’s music was just as eclectic as their debut album. However, What’s My Name? surpassed the quality Fel A Kezekkel! Sena’s band were going places. So was DJ Vadim.

This was 2011s DJ Vadim Presents The Electric’s Life Is Moving. Just like U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun. It was the third album DJ Vadim released on BBE Music. DJ Vadim Presents The Electric’s Life Is Moving was a fitting followup to U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun. Critics loved the album. It was vintage hip hop from a hip hop veteran. A year later, DJ Vadim made a welcome return.

When DJ Vadim returned in 2012, he came bearing gifts. This was his tenth studio album Don’t Be Scared. It was released to widespread critical acclaim. Without doubt, Don’t Be Scared was one of the best hip hop albums of 2012. DJ Vadim had set the bar high for his eleventh album. It would be released in 2014. Before that, Sena released her sophomore album.

In 2013, Sena Dagadu released her sophomore solo album, Lots Of Trees. It was released on French Soulbeats Records. When Lots Of Trees was released, critics were impressed by Sena’s long-awaited sophomore album. Critical acclaim accompanied its release. Record buyers agreed. Soon, when Sena headed out on tour, she found herself playing sold out stadium shows. Sena has even played a Grammy Award show. Her star is very much in the ascendancy. Still though, Sena plays a part in some of DJ Vadim’s projects. 

Previously, Sena was worked on some of DJ Vadim’s project. She has also toured the world with his bands One Self and The Electric. With DJ Vadim’s various bands, Sena manages to juggle touring the world and  bringing up her daughter Cecile. The musical journey that began when she met DJ Vadim in Budapest was continuing apace.

In 2014, DJ Vadim re;eased the followup to Don’t Be Scared. It wasn’t a hip hop album. No. Dubcatcher ws an album of dancehall reggae. This being DJ Vadim though, means Dubcatcher isn’t just an album of dancehall reggae. There was everything from bass culture, boogie, boom bap rap, roots music, soul and UK 2 step soul. Essentially, Dubcatcher is a genre-hopping album where DJ Vadim embarks upon another musical experiment. Helping him along the way, are an extensive cast guest artists. This cast didn’t include Sena. However, Sena would play a starring role in the next album DJ Vadim released.

Just a year after the release Dubcatcher, DJ Vadim returns with another album Grow Slow. It’s not a DJ Vadim solo album. Far from it. Instead it’s a collaboration with Sena.

Both DJ Vadim and Sena receive equal billing on Grow Slow, which will be released by BBE Music on 15th June 2015. That’s only fair. Sena wrote the ten tracks and adds vocals on Grow Slow. Meanwhile, DJ Vadim adds some of his trademark raps, and produced Grow Slow, which is a genre defying musical journey.

Given their previous track records, Grow Slow is a suitably eclectic album from DJ Vadim and Sena. They bob and weave their way through musical genres and influences. All the time, they draw inspiration from their respective musical backgrounds. 

That’s the case from Go Slow’s opening track, There Is A Moment. DJ Vadim combines elements of hip hop, funk, folk and reggae. Meanwhile Sena delivers a soulful vocal powerhouse. It’s a mixture of power and emotion and whets one’s appetite for the rest of Grow On.

Day By Day sees the tempo drop, and Sena find her inner diva. Behind her, synths and crispy beats create a funky, electronic backdrop. Although it’s the polar opposite of Sena’s vocal, they’re like a musical yin and yang.

DJ Vadim drops the tempo on Work Hard. He combines crunchy beats, a bounding bass and synths. They’re scene setters for Sena’s strutting vocal. Sena fuses  hip hop and soul, and in doing so, creates an irresistible track. 

There’s a nod to Chic as Living In The New unfolds. This funky, minimalist introduction allows Sena’s vocal to take centre-stage. As the drums provide the heartbeat, a bass meanders along. Meanwhile, Sena delivers one of her most soulful and assured vocals. 

Stems ’N’ Seeds has a slow, smokey and soulful, hip hop sound. DJ Vadim provides the backdrop for Sena’s vocal. She delivers a feisty fusion of hip hop and soul. Meanwhile, electronica, funk, hip hop and soul melt into one, creating a smokey sounding anthem.

Against just a backdrop of keyboards, Sena scats on Grow Slow. Soon, she’s delivering a slow, needy and hopeful Nu Soul vocal. Accompanied by DJ Vadim’s slow, electronic arrangement Sema plays a starring role in one of Grow Slow’s highlights.

Straight away, Boneshaker has a choppy, dubby sounding arrangement. A braying horn interjects as Sena toasts her way through the arrangement. Meanwhile, elements of Afrobeat, dub, electronica, funk and hip hop are combined by DJ Vadim. Almost seamlessly, the veteran producer combines the music of four continents on this genre melting musical journey.

Gradually, Run Along’s understated arrangement unfolds. Again, the music of several continents unite. Elements of Afrobeat and Carribean music combine with hip hop. Sena’s vocal is defiant and emotive. Especially when she sings: “I’ve got no time for you, I got no time for fools, Run Along to school.”

Big bold drums beats and synths combine as Sena delivers a joyous vocal on Morning Light. Behind her, DJ Vadim creates a mellow, laid back and slightly funky backdrop. Elements of electronica, hip hop, funk, jazz and Nu Soul combine, as Sena’s vocal plays an important part in feel good, summery sounding vibe.

Give Me More Part 2 closes Grow Slow, and features guest artist Syross the Virus. He interjects as Sena delivers another of her swaggering, vocals. DJ Vadim creates another genre melting arrangement. He combines elements of funk, hip hop and reggae. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Sena’s swaggering, strutting vocal. This ensures that Grow Slow closes on a musical high, leaving the listener wanting more from DJ Vadim and Sena.

Ten years after they first met, DJ Vadim and Sena have finally found time to collaborate on an album. And what an album it is. Over Grow Slow’s ten tracks, DJ Vadim and Sena take the listener on a journey through disparate musical genres. Eerything from Afrobeat, Caribbean, dub, electronica, funk, hip hop, jazz, Nu Soul and soul have influenced Grow Slow. As a result, the music is catchy, funky, irresistible, mellow, soulful, sassy, sultry and summery sounding. Grow Slow is an eclectic sounding and captivating musical journey.

After ten tracks, DJ Vadim and Sena’s musical journey is complete. The veteran producer and Ghana’s musical First Lady have leave you wanting more. One wishes there was a couple of more tracks. It’s a like the party one doesn’t want to end. End it does though. However, hopefully, DJ Vadim and Sena will soon, begin work on the followup to Grow Slow, which was released on BBE Music on 15th June 2015. Let’s hope so.



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