Dec 20, 2012

Federator N°1

Federator N°1 brings together afrobeat and afro-dance music in an exceptional live experience. Originals and arrangments of familiar tunes are at once both deeply traditional and unapologetically modern - maintaining the power of music to speak to today's situation - culturallly, politically, and musically. Federator N°1 will free both your body and your mind.

Based in Boston, where there is a vibrant african music scene, Federator N°1's name is inspired by a piece about Fela Kuti. One of the guys who worked on Radio Shrine furthering Fela's musical message spoke about the role of the station as the primary Federator of Afrobeat. In that vein, our role is to be the Federator of the first order of afrobeat and afro-centric dance music in Boston. The name also references Konono N°1, and the fantastic work they are doing playing music that is at once traditional and modern.

Check out some information

Federator N°1



Dec 18, 2012

GET IT: Kumapim Royal's Band ‎– Mani Agyina Wo


A1. Adee A Owo Aye
A2. Mani Agyina 
A3. Ohoho Batani 
B1. Asamando
B2. Mene Wo Ara 
B3. Me Mbo Tuo 
B4. Me Su Me Fre Wo 

Dec 17, 2012

Femi Kuti announces new album "No Place for My Dream" for 2013!

Femi Kuti Returns to Afrobeat Roots on New Album

Unlike his 2010 Grammy-winning album, Africa for Africa, Femi Kuti opted to record its forthcoming follow-up, No Place for My Dream, in Paris instead of Nigeria. Why remove himself from his native country? As the 50-year-old singer and son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela tells Rolling Stone when he calls from Nigeria, he wanted to take advantage of the technological advances abroad to fully energize his highly politicized music. "I live this experience. I'm in Nigeria right now," he explains. "We have no electricity in my house. There was a bomb blast in Kano today. So I'm experiencing it."

Kuti sees No Place for My Dream as the inevitable return to the Afrobeat music which helped launch his career in the late Eighties and culminated with the release of 1998's critically acclaimed Shoki Shoki. In the years since, Kuti says he found himself with the opportunity to expand his musical repertoire, most notably by working with American hip-hop artists such as Mos Def, Common and Jaguar Wright for 2001's Fight to Win. "It was my going off what I wanted to do, what I had to do," he says. "Now it's going back on track where I really want to be with No Place for My Dream. It's like going back to where I started off."

The album also breaks new topical grounds. "I think this album is probably more political than any of the songs I've done," he says. For the album's highly emotional bent, the singer drew upon his experiences touring abroad, as well as his constant ingestion of news reports of global suffering. "I'm feeling the pain of the people that love my music," he says. "I'm watching the news and seeing all the riots, so many people out of work, the global recession. This is very disheartening news. The songs are not really for Nigeria or Africa anymore. They are for people I love. I'm just voicing their pain with my music."

To that effect, the singer doesn't mince words in his new tunes. On "No Work No Job No Money," over a slinky guitar groove and reggae-tinged synths, he ruminates on behalf of the 99 percent: "See the suffering of the people/ They no getting nothing/ Then they hungry," he laments. On "Politic Na Big Business" his aim shifts to the greed of our world's lawmakers: "As I rack my brain/ Trying to understand politics/ Again and again/ Politicians use the same tactics," he bellows atop a foreboding, minor-key melody with a stabbing horn section.

Kuti is aware that returning to his Afrobeat roots– and loading his songs with political undercurrents – will likely draw comparisons to his late father. However, he insists he's keen on carving his own path. "I think it's very important for me to give tribute to who it's due," he says. "So that's very important to my father's creation. I must respect that all the time. But I don't want to be my father's replica. I want to find my own spirit, my own soul and my own voice."

The singer plans to release No Place for My Dream in early 2013 and will hit the road just after the New Year, kicking off a string of U.S. tour dates on January 13th in Miami. Having recently turned 50, Kuti says he now feels better equipped to balance his touring life with his role as a father to his 10 children. "I think I'm a better person now," he says. "I'm calmer. I think when I was younger, I was very overprotective to a lot of personal issues. I was too hard on people around me. People probably think I'm too sensitive now and too emotional, blah, blah, blah, blah. I like me where I am now."

Dec 14, 2012

Ifang Bondi - Saraba

Ifang Bondi, meaning "be yourself" in Mandinka language, grew out of the former Gambian band called the Super Eagles. Founded in the 60's the Super Eagles was the undisputed top group in the Gambia and Senegal. In 1968 they toured Ghana, making an enormous impact with their very African sound in a country which was shortly to produce Osibisa.

In 1970 Super Eagles was disbanded only to rise up again in 1973, as Ifang Bondi. The name was new as the sound, featuring for the first time indigenous Senegambian rhythms, melodies and instruments. They integrated traditional instruments as kora, balafon, sabar, talking drum, bugarabu and djembe with mordern instruments as the electric guitar, base and keyboards.

As such they have been credited to be the true originators of the current "Afro-Manding" sound as extemporised by stars such as Yousou N'dure, Salif Keïta and Mory Kante.

With the latest CD "Gis Gis" Ifang Bondi celebrates their 25 years of existence with the leader bassist Badou Jobe who is the only original member remaining in the band. Badou Jobe has been with the Super Eagles from the beginning and has been the driving force in 1973 when the big change in style happened. The group lives in The Gambia and makes tours to Europe every year with a base in the Netherlands.


A1. Atis-A-Tis
A2. Xaleli Africa
A3. Saraba
A4. Yolele
B1. Zalel Dey Magg
B2. Sutukun
B3. Xam Xam

Dec 7, 2012

From Senegal: Royal Band De Thiès

TERANGA BEAT proudly presents the ROYAL BAND de THIÈS in their first ever and entirely unreleased 1979 recording. Singers and composers JAMES GADIAGA & SECKA will guide you through the sweet melodies, wicked rhythms and vocal traditions of Senegalese music, in a fabulous performance that combines MBALAX with AFRO-JAZZ. While many bands in the world claimed the title of “Pacesetters” none can stand next to ROYAL BAND de THIÈS. The 9-member band with its dynamite percussion and horn sections will twist you like tornado! Tracks like "HOMMAGE À MBAYE FALL" will take you on a musical journey to the cultural crossroads of Senegal, West Africa’s meeting point of European, Latin American and African musical traditions. This real-time, two-microphone recording gives the impression that the group is playing live in front of you, making it hard to believe it dates back 33 years ago! The liner notes of the double gatefold LP and CD booklet include more interesting details, outlining JAMES's & SECKA's musical careers along with the past and present of the band. We hope you will enjoy!


The Royal Band de Thiès was formed by Mapathé 'James' Gadiaga in 1972, after he had left a school band Cayor Rhythm de Thiès. He soon called upon singer Adama Seck 'Secka' to join him. In their hometown Thiès, the second city of the country with more than 300,000 inhabitants, located around 70 kms East of Dakar, the Royal Band frequently performed in various clubs and venues, and recorded in Club Sangomar. Only occasionally they performed in Dakar.

They released a few cassettes and made it to reasonable fame in Senegal but never made it to international audience nor to an international release. Only a small incrowd of Senegalese music fans was familiar with them until small Dutch label Dakar Sound released a number of their songs on their compilations. Their music is loved for the expressive, soulful vocals and the raw and funky rhythms. The Royal Band's style of mbalax can be seen as quite recognisable.

Another niche label for Senegambian music, Teranga Beat, uncovered their first recordings from 1979, thusfar unreleased. The album « Kadior Demb » is the first full-length album available after so many years.

In 1984, Mapathé 'James' Gadiaga left to join Super Diamono before engaging in other musical adventures (Johnny Clegg, followed by a period in France), before creating Super Cayor de Dakar back in Senegal.


In August 2004, Greek DJ Adamantios Kafetzis was traveling West Africa and found himself in Thiès, a quiet city 40 miles east of the port city of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. In a derelict nightclub he was smitten with the band, The Royal Band de Thiès, and particularly their singer, Adam Seck dit Secka, whose powerful voice summoned the authority of the ancient griots amidst the contemporary dance rhythms. Scouring the city for recordings by the Royal Band yielded only a handful of dodgy cassettes, but the search inspired Kafetzsis to start his own label, Teranga Beat, in order to unearth previously lost documents of Senegal’s rich musical landscape. The discovery of a stash of archival tapes recorded by local impresario Moussa Diallo “Sangomar” Thiès has yielded a handful of releases, all of them excellent, but none quite as revelatory as Kadior Demb, the previously unreleased first album by The Royal Band recorded live in the studio in 1979.

The Royal Band de Thiès was formed by Secka and Mapathe Gadiaga dit James in 1972 and they were one of the progenitors of a style of music that would become known as Mbalax. Now the national popular dance music of Senegal and Gambia, Mbalax was initially developed in response to the perceived decadence of the post-colonial period and the rise of African nationalism. A fusion of Western dance styles like jazz, funk and Latin American salsa, Mbalax distinguishes itself from more Europeanized African music by singing in Wolof, the regional lingua franca, and the integration of indigenous sabar tribal drumming with the conventional rhythm section. James was instrumental in leading this charge and eventually left for greener pastures in Dakar, Pretoria (where he briefly played with Johnny Clegg) and Marseille before returning to Senegal to form Super Cayor de Dakar. James can be heard on Kadior Demb, his keening tenor providing a delightful contrast with Secka’s silky baritone and the nine-piece band typical of the era, complete with dual electric guitars and a stabbing horn section.

What makes The Royal Band’s version of Mbalax unique is their distinctive approach to rhythm. Accents and downbeats are subtly displaced, making an even number of beats sound uneven—all the while remaining imminently danceable—and this rhythmic device can be found all over Kadior Demb. On songs like “Cherie Coco,” “Korolober” and “Righie Righie,” a six-beat meter is made to sound like a measure of four plus an extra two beats, while on “Dagath,” an eight-beat meter feels like a measure of three beats plus five. These asymmetrical metrical schemes contrast starkly with the up-and-down rhythms of Western music and provide an off-kilter yet strongly propulsive drive. Elsewhere, as on dreamy ballads like “Ma Kodou Deguene,” “Doudhane” and “Sama Yaye Boye,” the duple rhythms are more straightforward and flowing but with the voices and instruments weaving intertwined melodies of complex syncopation. Meanwhile, “Hommage à Mbaye Fall” is the most Westernized sounding track, a long Afro-jazz jam session with moody saxophone soloing over a bed of two-chord, modal vamping. Nevertheless, it is as beguiling as everything else on the album.

Recorded with just two microphones at the Sangomar Night Club in Thiès, Kadior Demb, boasts astonishingly vivid sound quality, bringing The Royal Band right into your living room. Every guitar curlicue, horn riff and vocal line is crystal clear and extraordinarily detailed while the bass and drums pack a solid punch—proof of the efficacy of a simple stereo recording technique. The CD sounds great but I’d be willing to bet the limited edition two-LP vinyl edition sounds even better and would be well worth seeking out. While Kadior Demb is a glorious discovery, Kafetzis claims two more unreleased recordings are forthcoming. The resurrection of these long-lost documents should bring The Royal Band de Thiès the international recognition which is so obviously long overdue.


01. Cherie Coco
02. Kouye Magana
03. Ma Kodou Deguene
04. Dagath
05. Doudhane
06. Mariama
07. Gossar
08. Korolober
09. Sama Yaye Boye
10. Hommage à Mbaye Fall
11. Righie Righie

Dec 5, 2012

C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7 - Funky Highlife

C.K. Mann made his name as a virtuous guitar player in Ghana when he played with Moses Kweku Oppong in the Kakaikus Guitar Band in the early 60s. He then became the leader of the band Ocean’s Strings until 1966. In 1968, he enjoyed a hit with the single ‘Edina Benya’.

Mann was known for blending authentic African music with European influences. He was inspired by Latin American music and created a style all of his own. He became known as the ‘King of Highlife‘ in Ghana in the 70's, when he released the record ‘Nimpa Rebre’ featuring vocals from Pat Thomas and Kofi Yankwon.

Funky Highlife came out of the Essiebons label run by Dick Essilfe Bondzie. According to Dick, this album could have been a massive hit in Ghana but the vinyl factories ran out of stock because of Ghana’s economic downturn, so the demand for the record could not be met.  The album is a fusion of highlife and soul. The best-known track ‘Asafo beesuon’ is a multi-layered, drum heavy, funk medley and is over 13 minutes long.

In the late 90s hip hop producers started hearing about Afrobeat through the sounds of Fela Kuti. Steinski, one of the most influential early producers in hip hop, sampled Asafo Beesoun and suddenly all the hip hop collectors wanted a copy. Hence, the original LP is a hard-to-find and sought-after collectors item.

Mr.Bongo Records


C.K. Mann first rose to fame I'm the early 60s playing guitars in Ghana with Moses Kweku Oppong I'm the Kakaikus Guitar Band before moving to lead the band Ocean's Strings until 1966. Funky Highlife is the latest re-release in Mr Bongo's never ending pursuit of gems from the past, coming as part of the Classic African Recordings Series.

Funky Highlife was originally released through the Essiebons label but according to the manager of that label, Dick Essilfe Bondzie, the album never reached the audience it could have due to an economic downturn in Ghana which subsequently lead to a lack of vinyl for vinyl factories. Bad times.

African music has often influence mainstream music, with regular growths in popularity and influence over the past few decades. Whether the post punk experimentations of the early 80s or the influence on hip-hop and soul in the late 90s or the subsequent re-influence on noughties indie via post punks revival. Funky Highlife is a fusion of African sounds, Latin American music & style and soul.

This re-release comes in two flavours - the original on vinyl, which features two extended medleys, and an extended CD with and extra 40-minutes of music across eight songs. It's hard to deny that this sounds richer, more authentic and ultimately better on LP, and since the vinyl release also includes a download code it is clearly the version to get.

The actual music is hard not to love - laid back Highlife fused to Latin-jazz elements and soul. The 'Asafo Beesuon' medley is gently strummed and hummed, an infectious and joyful patter. Melodies are plucked out in a relaxed way and the music and vocals create a laid-back mood. 'Beebi A Odo Wo' is a little less horizontal, a snappy and soulful track with sharper rhythms, jazz-influenced guitar and some well timed brass.
Highlife is a style of music originating in Ghana influenced by jazz, with horns and layered guitars commonly featuring. These days it's perhaps a little less common to hear it called out than Afrobeat, Nigeria's equivalent - and it lacks the kind of attention that Fela Kuti's success brought to the latter. It has still had periods of larger success as a genre though, rising to popularity in the in the 60s.

Funky Highlife, either in its original or extended forms, is music to embrace and cherish, to chase the blues and cloud away. It comes together to make something bigger than any individual moment - instead its a record to leave to unfurl whilst business of life goes on around you.


Trawling through the Urban Essence promos mailbox can, at times, be a tedious task. While we’re blessed with receiving a lot of exciting new music that’s fresh off the press, one sometimes feels bombarded by the deluge of uninteresting, formulaic and imitatory sounds that come hand-in-hand with it.

But every now and then, you stumble across something that’s a little bit different, something that makes your ears prick up in refreshment. And when the Funky Highlife from C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7 landed in our inbox the other day, that’s exactly what happened.

The first of a new series of re-releases from London-based-globally-faced world music label Mr Bongo, Funky Highlife is a collection of tracks dating back to the ‘70s from one of the foremost purveyors of the timeless Ghanaian style of Highlife – C.K. Mann. 

For those unfamiliar, Highlife is the jazzy, funk-infused sound that originated in Ghana in the early 20th Century, later developing into a global phenomenon in the ‘60s when US funk and soul records made their way onto the shores of the Gold Coast and found themselves assimilated into the local styles. Highlife put Ghana on the musical map in much the same way as Afrobeat did for neighbouring Nigeria. 

As one of Ghana’s most highly lauded guitarists, C.K. Mann collaborated with numerous luminaries of the Highlife scene, like Moses Kweku Oppong in the Kakaikus Guitar Band, Pat Thomas and Kofi Yankwon, which lead to him later being dubbed the ‘King of Highlife’. 

The most notable track on the album is without doubt the epic and fantastical 13-minute jam, Asafo Beesuon Medley; an effortless melange of laidback African drums, flirting accordions, cheerful guitar riffs, and the glorious vocal musings of Mann that kick off the record in magnificent style.

The Beebi a odo wo medley continues in blissfully sun-kissed fashion, its organ and big band backing track gelling seamlessly with Mann’s crooning, exhibiting that most classically appealing feature of Highlife music; the ability to be so powerfully emotive despite remaining so nonchalantly easygoing.

While the original LP was centered mainly around these two tracks, this newly re-issued CD features an additional eight songs, all in the same vein as their original predecessors, making for a thoroughly enjoyable and extended listening experience.

With much of the genre’s back catalogue obscured by the often extremely limited number of pressings in their native setting, Mr Bongo has with this album launched a major restoration project that aims to bring these and other wonderfully undiscovered African sounds into the 21st Century. And if the rest of the series is anything like this magnificent first offering, we’ve a lot to look forward to.



  1. Asafo beesuon Medley 
  2. Beebi a odo wo Medley 
  3. Yebeyi wo aye(Ebibrim Blues) 
  4. Do me ma mondo wo bi 
  5. Matow aboa 
  6. Araba Lucy 
  7. Fawakoma ma me 
  8. Se menya wo a 
  9. Efi na matase 
  10. Ye wo abo awokanka 
  11. Medzi makoma ma wo 
  12. Nyama mna wo nkoso nyimpa rebre