The Globally-Minded Mediterranean Pop of Marina Satti’s “Mixtape”

Greek popstar Marina Satti's latest "Mixtape" is a culmination of the Mediterranean's music becoming a fusion of sonic sensibilities after peoples migrated and political realities shifted, Leonel...
By    June 6, 2024

Album Cover via Marina Satti/Instagram

Show your love of the game by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon, so that we can keep churning out interviews with legendary producers, feature the best emerging rap talent, and gift you the only worthwhile playlists left in this streaming hellscape.

Mexican music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.

For hundreds of years, the Mediterranean Sea was understood as the center of the known world. Civilizations rose and fell, formidable armies faced off for resources and glory, and religions shaped the identity of millions. But the most powerful, the most ultimately influential of these phenomena, was trade.

The region’s enormous potential for exchange and enrichment led to a millennia-long splendor that signified one of mankind’s earliest attempts at a Globalization. Europeans, Africans, Arabs, Iranians, Romanies, and countless other groups that have been forgotten to history, participated in a perpetual movement of goods, documents, languages, ideas, and most importantly, peoples.

By virtue of this, all musical manifestations of the Mediterranean — From Andalusian flamenco to Palestinian dabke — are a fusion of sonic sensibilities, rhythms and melodies; as peoples migrated and political realities shifted, the cultures created a sort of musical continuum, and a very particular sense of closeness that explains, for example, why Balkan brass music retains certain melodic inflections from maqam or why everyone and their grandma plays bagpipes.

Greek popstar Marina Satti is a modern inheritor of this fascinating history. Born from a Cretan mother and a Sudanese Arab father, her music has taken forms of ethnopop from throughout the region, and her penchant for wild experimentation has led to a complete upheaval in the urban music landscape of her home country. Formally trained in jazz and choral music, she has incorporated complex sounds and unearthed forgotten traditions, which she blends harmoniously with pop, hip-hop and club music.

Right after her Eurovision Song Contest participation — representing Greece with the amazing “ZARI”, a powerful single in itself –, she released her new EP “P.O.P”, which continues her exhilarating journey into making a truly cosmopolitan Greek sound. The record’s centerpiece is a track that aims to encompass as many styles of ethnic dance music available, not only in the Mediterranean, but in the entire globe.

“Mixtape” is a smorgasbord of sonic flavors; with a host of Greek stars past and present — from seasoned veterans like Efi Thodi and singer-entrepreneur Lefteris Pantazis, to rap majors like the Greek-French VLOSPA and local heroes Oge and RACK — she goes through a monumental range of genres and traditions.

In its 10-plus minute runtime, Marina has thrown in everything into the blender: Greek modern styles like sirtos, classic skiladiko and Cretan sousta; Bulgarian chalga, manele, several styles of turbofolk; the aforementioned dabke and other Arab world malfouf rhythms; anglo rap & dance styles, from 00’s pop-rap to UK bass (and even a Benny Benassi reference!); and of course, Hispano-Caribbean beats, from Boricua reggaetón, Dominican dembow, Colombia guaracha to even Panamanian ciento diez (there was a Chombo drum in there!).

But all of this is skilfully guided to suit Marina’s gleefully pluralistic vision, her aim to bring the best of Greek music to the present day and especially to bring it as it is, as part of an immense network of cultural routes taking all sorts of directions at the same time and an open space for sonic conversation with the rest of the world. And in the process, Marina has given us the most rewarding 10 minutes of music of the year so far.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!