Tag: afro pop

New Video: Guiss Guiss Bou Bess Teams up with ISS814 on a Heady Mix of African Diaspora Music

Sabar is a beloved and traditional folk music, played with a sabar, a traditional drum, generally played with one hand and a stick, throughout Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia. Most often you’d hear the style at weddings and other special celebrations.

Guiss Guiss Bou Bess—Mara Seck, Aba Diop, and Stephane Costantini — is a Dakar, Senegal-based act with some bonafide credentials:

  • Mara Sack is the son of beloved griot and musician Alla Seck.
  • Aba Diop is a rising sabar percussionist, from a family with a deep lineage with the instrument.
  • Stephane Constanti is a producer with extensive knowledge and experience in electronic music and drum ‘n’ bass.

Since their formation, the Senegalese trio have attempted to modernize the ancient and beloved sabar style, creating what they’ve dubbed Electro Sabar, a mix of ritual percussion, trap, dubstep, UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, bass house, Afrobass and kuduro that manages to simultaneously respect Senegalese traditions while being inspired by the bustling, exuberant, working class neighborhoods of their hometown.

Back in March, opposition Ousmane Sonko was arrested for rape allegations. His arrest led to ongoing mass protests, demonstrations and riots across the country, which has left more than 13 dead. Mackay Sall, Senegal’s President has responded with restrictions to Internet, social media and other other forms of expression and communication as a way to curb protests.

Coincidentally, the Senegalese trio’s latest single “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” off their album Set Sela manages to be remarkably timely: Featuring Senegalese emcee ISS814, “Sunu Gal,” as the band explains was written for their homeland’s young people: Partially written as a loving ode to Senegalese culture and values, the song sees the collaborators calling for their homeland’s young people to peacefully protest, while demanding that the government respect and honor the rights and concerns of its people.

Sonically, “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a heady and slickly produced mix of traditional rhythms and instrumentation, skittering trap hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, dialogue, traditional chants and some fiery and dexterous bars delivered in French and local dialects — presumably Wolof. While obviously being a meeting across the African Diaspora, the song is a powerful reminder that hip-hop is the lingua franca of young people across the globe.

Directed by Jean-Baptiste Joire, the vidoe for “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a gorgeously shot glimpse into daily life in Senegal with a playful and fantastical bent, before heading to the club, where we see dancers doing a mix of traditional and modern steps to the song.

New Audio: Emerging Artist Mighty Koba Releases a Summery Club Banger

Mighty Koba is an emerging and somewhat mysterious Cameroonian-American singer/songwriter. His latest single “Whine Poko” sees the emerging artist seamlessly bridging multiple cultures and styles with a slick and breezy dance floor friendly production featuring elements of Afrobeat, Afropop, reggae, dancehall and soca paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook.

With the temperatures dropping a bit here in the Northeast as we push further into Fall, “Whine Poko” at the moment is simultaneously, a nostalgic blast of summer and the sort of song you want to wine down with that pretty young thing at the club.

New Audio: Acclaimed Kinshasa-Based Collective KOKOKO! Releases a New Banger

Led by Makara Biano and prolific French producer débruit, the pioneering and acclaimed Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective KOKOKO! is fueled by growing spirit of protest and unrest among their hometown’s young people. And much like young people across the globe, Kinshasa’s young people have begun to openly question centuries’ old norms and taboos, and they’ve openly begun to denounce a society that they perceive as being paralyzed by fear — namely,. the fear of inclusiveness and much-needed change.

The collective and their local counterparts have done this with a fearless in-your-face, punk rock sort of ethos. This isn’t surprising: the acclaimed Congolese collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! — with the collective viewing themselves as the sound and voice of a bold, new generation defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling out “OUR TIME IS NOW!”

The Kinshasa-based collective’s creative processes are centered around the notion that poverty and the desperately urgent need to survive often fuels wild creativity. And unsurprisingly, they operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instrument made from recycled and reclaimed flotsam and jetsam and recovered junk. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, reclaimed wood and an old ping-one table.

The collective exploded into the national and international scenes with their critically applauded, full-length debut 2019’s FONGOLA was a forward-thinking, urgent effort featuring a difficult to pigeonhole, global orientated sound with elements of disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and the region’s traditional folkloric sounds. The end result, was a sound that seemed to come from an alien yet familiar, near-dystopian future like our own, where the ghetto and the club where one and the same.

The Kinshasa-based collective’s latests ginned “Donne Moi,” is the first bit of new material since their full-length debut. Featured on the soundtrack of FIFA 22, “Donne Moi” sees the act expanding upon their forward-thinking, sound: while still pairing their handmade instruments with electronic production, the new single is a percussive, house music leaning club banger centered around chanted and shouted call and response vocals, rousingly anthemic hooks.

“We recorded ‘Donne Moi’ in Brussels just before the pandemic hit, and we are happy it’s finally seeing a release. The song is about giving back. Giving, as well as receiving, shouldn’t be always one way.”

The collective is currently working on new material, which is slated for release next year.

New Video: Rising Burundian-Tanzanian Artist Young Spit Releases a Summery Banger

Niyomwungere Eric is rising 24 year-old Burundian-Tanzanian singer/rapper, whose family emigrated to the States when he was a child. Best known to the world as Young Spit, the Burundian-Tanzanian artist rose to prominence with the release of his first two singles “Shanna” and “Cinderella,” which appeared on his full-length length debut, last year’s Era 257. Those early singles and his debut found the young artist quickly establishing his unique sound, a mesh of Afro pop, Caribbean music and hip-hop paired with lyrics that draw from his personal experiences.

Clocking in at a smidge under three minutes, Era 257’s latest single “Uwanje” is a summery banger that’s both club and radio friendly — while drawing from an eclectic array of influences: the song manages to mesh trap, contemporary pop and R&B and dancehall as it prominently features twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering tweeter and woofer rocking beats, brief blasts of squiggling horns, a scorching guitar solo and the rising Burundian-Tanzanian artist’s gently Autotuned yet expressive vocals. But underneath the glossy swagger, the song is actually a tender and very sweet love song that gives it a subtle Quiet Storm vibe.

Directed by the rising Burundian-Tanzanian artist, shot by 21G productions and edited by Easy.Cuts, the recently released video for “Uwanje” is part behind-the-scenes-like footage of a photo shoot with the rising artist and some beautiful women split with footage of Young Spit rocking out to the song. The video has a playful charm that’s as infectious as the song itself.

Live footage: Mariaa Siga Performs “Weetay” at Vagh & Weinmann Music

Born Mariama Siga Goudiaby, singer/songwriter Mariaa Siga hails from the Casamance region of Southern Senegal. Back in 2009, Gouidaby won a local talent show and the attention of Senegalese act Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc’s frontperson mentored the young Goudiaby, helping her refine her style and further develop her musical skills. The next year, Siga landed a role in Mon Réve, a film which aired on the national TV network RDV. 

As a musician, Goudiaby grew up with the traditional rhythms of Casamance but curiosity led there to discover and experiment with more Western styles in her work including the blues and jazz. In 2016, the rising Senegalese artist was a winner of the Festival des Vielles Pirogues‘ Tremplin competition. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, she released two singles “Ya sama none” and “Asekaw,” the following year.

2018 saw Goudiaby perform in Casamance for the first time with a set at that year’s Kaiyssen Festival. Yoro Ndiyae featured Goudiaby on his Sunu Folk compilation. And she capped off a big year with a French tour in November. Late last year, the Senegalese artist released “Lagne Boote,” a breezy and infectious song that subtly hinted at soca and other Caribbean sounds paired with Afro pop that reminds the listener to never forget their roots. “When you get lost and don’t know where you’re going, go back to your sources,” Goudiaby explained in press notes.

Goudiaby and her backing band recently released a live, acoustic version of Asekaw album single “Weetay,” which translates into “loneliness” was filmed and recorded at Vagh & Weinmann Music in Salernes, France. Filmed in a single take to replicate the conditions of a live concert, the stripped down version of “Weetay” is centered around shimmering acoustic guitar and Siga’s gorgeous vocals, which manage to express desperate loneliness.

New Video: Jujuboy Star Releases a Summery Club Banger

Osaretin Rock Akhib is a 25 year-old Nigerian singer/songwriter and producer, best known as Jujuboy Star. Hailing from the the same city in Edo State as contemporaries Rema and Santi, the Nigerian singer/songwriter and producer can trace the origins of his music career to joining the local church choir when he turned eight. As a teenager, he learned about music production from a neighbor — and by the time he was 16, he was producing his own beats at his grandmother’s house, using Fruity Loops and a USB mic.

From those rather humble beginnings, Jujuboy Star has gone to collaborate with Jidenna, Adekunle Gold, Simi, Gospelonthebeatz. Seyi Shay and a lengthy list of others. Adding to a growing profile, the Edo State, Nigeria-based artist has become the first artist to be signed to the recently formed partnership between Aristokrat Records, the Nigerian entertainment company that discovered and developed international superstar Burna Boy and Universal Records. “Juju is by far one of the most exciting artists I’ve come across over the past decade and represents the next generation of African superstars,” Aristokrat Records founder and CEO Priye Isokari says in press notes. “We are glad to finally be introducing him to the world.”

Quickly following up on “I Dey There,” the rising Nigerian artist’s latest single, the Kel-P-produced “Enjoyment” is a sexy, feel-good club anthem centered around a slick production that meshes elements of Afrobeats, R&B and reggae: the listener will hear skittering and shuffling polyrhythm, squiggling synths, warm blasts of Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a strutting bass line paired with Jujuboy’s self-assured yet achingly vulnerable vocals. To me, it’s the sort of song that you’d likely hear in the club while you’re trying to pick up that pretty young thing.

Directed by Earthboi, the recently released video for “Enjoyment” follows the rising Nigerian artist as he wakes up bleary-eyed and staggering from a wild house party with some of the most beautiful Black people I’ve ever set eyes on — including a gold clad woman, who plays the stunning love interest.

The Republic of Djibouti is a small country located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Somaliland to the south, Ethiopia to the southwest, Eritrea to the north and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to the east. Interestingly, on the eve of the small East African country’s independence, a densely packed archive was pieced together in a quiet corner of the national radio. And over the years, it became an outstanding yet largely unknown archive that housed thousands of master reels and cassettes of some of the region’s finest sounds.

The archive has survived and endured fires and even theft of invaluable recordings. Those scars linger on the delicate films of quarter-inch reels and cassette tapes. And yet, it remains one for he most expansive, well-maintained archives in Africa — but it’s simultaneously been one of the most restrictive: for decades, the archives remained off-limits to foreign entities of any kind until 2019.

As Ostinato Records explains in press notes, they operate on the guiding principle that no physical historic recordings should leave a country and agreements with archives should be a win-win trade, not aid. Part of the deal for archival across and licensing rights included a finely refurbished Technics reel-to-real player from the ’70s with upgraded software to replace a worn-out model for RTD to continue their digital preservation of the entire archive in high quality.

Although it took several years of negotiations Ostinato Records became the first label granted access stop the archives of Radiodiffusion-Télevision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories from East Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and of course Djibouti.

Somali supergroup 4 Mars, the act behind one of the most popular songs on their Grammy-nominated Sweet As Broken Dates compilation is the first chapter of their “Djibouti Archives” because of their incredibly rich, globalized sound reveals a new history of the world — and of music. For centuries, all roads lead to Horn of Africa. As a a major port and transit point connecting African, Asia and the Mediterranean, goods, ideas, foods, people and culture were briskly exchanged: Musically, Egyptian, Turkish, Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese traders and tastemakers dropped anchor in Djibouti’s Gulf of Tadjoura, with each arrival influencing the region’s sound and aesthetic.

Today, a third of all world trade passes through Djibouti’s straits and a similar mix of diverse and eclectic characters roam the streets and docks. Reportedly, a South African diplomat pointed to Djibouti and told the folks at Ostinato “This is the future.” But for the sake of this post, let’s talk about 4 Mars. 4 Mars offers a bright window into Djibouti’s past, when the country was starting from scratch. Their name — Quatre Mars in French — refers to March 4, 1977, the founding date of The People’s Rally for Progress, the political party in charge of the small East African country since its independence. And interestingly enough, 4 Mars was the party’s band.

New countries are in desperate need of unity — and of unifying ideals. The country’s leaders saw music, and 4 Mars especially, as the ideal soundtrack to an independent era. Almost all music was brought under the state’s wing. But interestingly enough, it wasn’t propaganda music — not in the sense as we would understand it. Music was seen as a way of quickly building a national identity and to instill values. And acts like 4 Mars were seen as having a key role in nurturing and teaching a new nation.

4 Mars is largely unknown outside of Horn of Africa region because it was a massive 40 member entourage featuring actors, singers, dancers, musicians and percussionists. Only super wealthy leaders like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi could invite them to tour. But in Djibouti, they played at the once-lavish national theater, developing a reputation for amazing live shows, some of which were recorded by RTD.

Slated for a February 19, 2021 release globally and a February 26, 2021 release in the States, (Djibouti Archives Vol. 1) Super Somali Sounds from the Gulf of Tadjoura: 4 Mars was authorized by booth RTD and The Palace of the People, which founded and overseas 4 Mars. Compiled from master tapes and reels recorded at RTD Studios and from live performances at the national theater between 1977 and 1994, this collection is a seminal anthology that offers a perspective shifting journey through East Africa.

So, to build up buzz for the compilation Ostinato Records released three singles off the compilation — “Hoblaayeey Nabadu! (Hello Peace!),” “Dhulka Hooyo (Motherland)” and “Aabo Usha Noohaay (Father Hold the Stick for Us).” These three tracks are a wonderful example of 4 Mars’ sound — a sound in which disparate and eclectic sound and ideas mesh into something familiar yet completely new. The songs are a heady and mind-bending mesh of Afrobeat and Bollywood-inspired vocals, shuffling off-beat reggae licks, which some will argue came from Jamaican reggae while others will say come from Somali Dhaanto rhythm, Egyptian and Yemeni rhythms, Sudanese song structures, American jazz and funk-inspired horn lines, Turkish-inspired synth melodies, Egyptian and Yemeni rhythms and so on delivered with a feverish intensity and urgency.

While the material has an old and dusty analog sound, it’s a bright vision of a genre-less, border-less future ruled by the exchange of ideas and sounds and drive by funky groove — 40 years before anyone here dreamt of it. Djibouti past and is the world’s future, indeed.

Doubleheader is a new collaborative project between Arthur Comeau, a musician and producer, who has released material as Radio Radio, Nom de Plume and under his own name — and multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger Jean Massicotte, who has worked with Patrick Wilson, Jean Leloup, Lhasa, Arthur H, Alejandra Ribera and a lengthy list of others. Doubleheader finds the acclaimed musicians and producers blending a wild mix of ideas, genres and sounds — including beatmaking, DJinng, hip-hop, worldbeat, pop and others — as aa way of showing the world what pop music can feel and sound like in the 2020s and beyond, continuing artist’s push towards a genre-defying and genre-less world. But more Importantly, their sound and approach is specifically crafted to be a reflection of the world we should be aspiring to — a multicultural world that celebrates diversity in all of its forms.

The Montreal-based act’s 10 song, full-length debut Slim Wall finds the duo collaborating with an equally accomplished collection of Canadian vocalists including 2020 Juno Award-winning artist Dominque Fils-Aimé, 2019 AFRIMA Award-winning artist AfrotroniX, 2020 Juno Award-winner Djely Tapa, Samito, EIDHZ, Quentin Hatfield and TEKE: TEKE’s Maya Kuroki to create material that eschews genre and language constraints in an interesting yet accessible fashion.

Acclaimed Malian-Canadian artist Djely Tapa contributes achingly plaintive and evocative vocals to Slim Wall single “Djanto,’ a track which pairs shimmering acoustic guitar with skittering beats, twinkling synth arpeggios and a soaring hook in a slickly produced club banger that finds the members of Doubleheader meshing elements of reggaeton and Afro pop. But underneath the club friendly, tweeter and woofer rocking thump, the song is centered by a thoughtful and important message: taking care of nature involves protecting both animal and human life.

New Video: Rising Afro Pop Artist Poundo Releases a Swaggering, Global Club Banger

Poundo Gomis is an emerging Guinea-Bissauan-French singer/songwriter, dancer, writer producer, , blogger and fashionista who currently splits her time between her hometown of Paris and New York, who performs under the mononymic moniker Poundo. Exposed to and influenced by the best of Africa and the West, Gomis immersed herself in the performing arts as a dancer and vocalist — and in fashion.

Over the past few years, Gomis has been incredibly busy. She has worked with some of the world’s top directors and choreographers — including Opéra de Paris’ Marie-Claude Pietragalia, Jérôme Savary, Georges Momboye, and Anne Fontaine. She was a featured danced in the Broadway musical Fela! — and since then, she has worked with Alicia Keys, Bill T. Jones, Spike Lee, The Roots and Cirque du Soleil, Aya Nakamura, Gims, Dadju, Vitaa, Amir, Hyphen Hyphen, Sting and a growing list of others.

As a recording artist Gomis has crafted a global, genre-defying take on pop music. Drawing from trap. pop, hip-hop and Mandingue music, the Paris-born artist’s work draws from her own personal experiences paired with political statements — while being accessible and club friendly. Slated for a November 27, 2020 release, the Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s debut EP features a collection of touch upon her love of fantasy while bravely exploring her vulnerability.

The rising Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s latest single “O Wassa Waru,” which means “A Beautiful Soul” in Mandjak is a slickly produced, club banger with a cinematic quality. Centered around looping twinkling kora lines. African polyrhythm, staccato handclaps, stuttering trap beats, staccato handclaps, wobbling low end and an infectious hook paired with Gomis’ self-assured delivery in English and Mandjak. Switching between swaggering rhymed versions and sultrily sung vocals, the track suggests that Gomis may have been influenced by Lauryn Hill and others — but with a brash, global bent and a righteous message. “It’s an ode for girls and women,” Gomis says. “I wrote and produced the track between New York, Paris and Conakry. I sing in English and Mandjak because I couldn’t do it a different way. 🙂 I grew up speaking Mandjak, French, Wolof and later learned English & Spanish at school. That’s why this song shows how international I am.”

Directed by LDITCH, the recently released video for “O Wassa Waru” is a gorgeous and cinematically shot visual featuring some serious black girl magic: beautiful and talented black women being badass in equally gorgeous settings,