Nov 16, 2016

Nov 14, 2016

Juls - African Crates Volume I

British-born Ghanaian DJ and producer, Juls digs up some 1960s and 70s West African vinyl for his latest beat tape African Crates Volume 1, a new 18-track release that flips vintage grooves into booming hip-hop beats.

“I sampled a lot of old school Ghanaian and Nigerian highlife and afrobeat from the 60s and 70s,” explains Juls. “[The tracks are] very raw and rugged joints that you can bob your head to, rap and possible dance to… [it also includes] 3 unreleased joints with Worlasi, Black Way and Saint Kwam.”

Nov 11, 2016

From Ghana: Worlasi - Nusɛ: Strength Within (for free)

Nusɛ: Strength Within is Worlasi's debut musical compilation, the 13 track tape is an exploration of his dreams, emotions and insights on life and a much needed discourse on black power, passions and owning our destinies.

Reinvigorating and unique lyricism lace the afro inspired beats that ring through the tape and make it a refreshingly non-conformist treasure trove of afrobeats and hip-hop influenced melodies.

Spurred on by the massive support received during the ŋusẽ listening session , the tape will feature an extra song (Apocalypse) as a show of gratitude and cementing of his position as a dexterous musician.

His first cohesive body of work, ŋusẽ, which translates from Worlasi`s native Ewe as strength, is an audacious staging platform, set to propel Worlasi to heights unheard of.

Worlasi is signed to supremeRights Records and already has three singles to his credit.



Recently discovered the album by coincidence and it's amazing if you like hiphop. Please check it out, its honestly worth to listen to, in general and especially if you like to discover new music.


With Worlasi’s Nusɛ, it’s just as much the flame in every single song as it is about the overall experience of the project. Every one of the songs on that mixtape is majestic in their wonder, but when you listen to those 13 tracks at half past midnight, God is not so far away. Believe me, they respect my opinion on music of late.

You’ve not heard of him yet? That’s alright. I feel sad for you, but it’s alright. The truest artists usually have to be looked for. If the gods permit, we stumble upon them, but I suspect it’s more a reward for our show of commitment to the pursuit of happyness than anything else.

It’s rare, unimaginable… for an artist to achieve such soul and depth with every song on a project, much less at first attempt…but then again, he’s an Ayigbe boy so…

So many things amaze me about this man. For one thing, he’s meticulous in arranging melody…and the rap just keeps coming, and he’s excellent on every beat, even indigenous rhythm, which is tedious to manoeuvre. And as a listener, it’s one of the best gifts –to feel like time has stopped while you’re absorbing God.

Edem raps in Ewe, EL raps in pidgin, I’m enchanted by them both. I have never, however, seen anyone put these languages side by side…not in this way. These languages, through which Worlasi primarily thinks, complete his identity –Ewe is what this world was introduced to him in. It’s the language through which he noticed care, a mother, play, scolding and a father’s punishment, sleep… In most of West Africa, Pidgin is the language of youth, and discovery, and through which individual conscience is moulded. It’s a more effective medium through which to explore life at twenty-something…because it is a mix of many languages, and it’s the best metaphor of what the average twenty-something has been through. That’s why his monologue is full of philosophy.

Nusɛ is strange and daring, because Worlasi’s words contain a courage and honesty, hope and covered reality.

The music on Nusɛ is original, deliberate, layered, practical, truthful, and definitely several paces ahead of what everyone else is doing right now. His rap is dexterous, his singing evokes feeling, and he’s fearless in choosing to speak in Ewe, which is accurate identity, but might be risky all the same.

In Worlasi’s sound, everything is happening at once, just as happens in Makola…just like life speaks to us. The composure this quality requires is insane. However, when you’ve been obedient enough to the spirits you hear in your head, and are patient enough to program them one at a time (as Worlasi has done here), then you’ve achieved genius. In music, genius is when we hear and are enthralled by something new, no matter how many times a song is repeated; Hallelujah Jesu, Unlooking, Freedom, Wake Orp…

Influence is the best homage. What a true creative makes from influence is a treasure. That is specifically what Nusɛ typifies. And the young man has been influenced by everyone and everything –FOKN Bois, Skillions, C-real, EL, Yaa Amponsah, Adowa, Agbadza, Nkrumah, Jesus, spoken word, everyday…life, basically. I know it’s what’s every artist says, but Worlasi is different, I’m telling you.

It’s not enough for an influence to choose you…the broth you make from it is what gives your voice audacity and reverence.

As a young head, he’s doing what young heads are supposed to do: asking questions. Asking questions is how we process life, yet, we are especially drawn to his approach at unpacking life because of his diction. His words are raw and unpretentious. These fundamental questions he asks, are asked in a way that’s more specific than we are used to. We all have these puzzles running through our minds; what’s our real place out here? What is our role? How do we navigate carnality to something truer, something higher? What do we make of the concept of “one day”? Why aren’t we assisting another to “ get in touch with his or her soul”, like the little boy says in Intro? “We are shapeless spirit forms … “the spirit is here for something greater/ being something greater/ something greater that can help another/ we are born that way…”

I confess, to my shame, that I too have not known Worlasi’s work for long. I came across Nusɛ when it was first released in May last year, but I ignored it. New artists usually don’t have my attention because they all want to brag like Sarkodie (sorry, rap), or, their music is fundamentally a terrible imitation of Nigerian and American rappers…so I couldn’t be bothered about this Ayigbe man who held a shackles on another him in the sitting room with the old tv and family pictures. The image is instructive; we are our own slaves, we are our own masters. Still, I wouldn’t fall for it.

My God, how stupid that was! I know for sure, that if I had heard Nusɛ a year ago, my life would be significantly less directionless. But it’s never too late, He says it himself in Someday: “ ebi late, ebi late/ it’s never too late…”

Six Strings shared a link of Worlasi’s latest single on his timeline. The song, One Life, features himself, with whom the girls are bonding emotionally because of Sobolo (which is someway), as well as Sena Dagadu, whose tone is sunlight. It’s where I finally shook hands with Worlasi. Of course this interaction took me back to everything else he has previously done, hence Nusɛ.

One Life is for reflection, it should be heard in solitude, for silence and slow tears are a natural response. It’s gentle in tempo, so it should not be absorbed in a rush. The string contribution in the song is beautiful and has just as much a voice. The use of silence, and the manner in which the rap both admonishes to live a more appreciative life and questions fundamental logic at the same time is a marvel to observe.

We all have been enamoured by the art which is One Life since it was released yesterday. But I have extra catching up to do, when it comes to Worlasi, so I’m grazing on Nusɛ first.

I love the sound of a good pound in music, and an anger in delivery, so definitely, Hallelujah Jesu is, in my opinion, the highest point of this mixtape. But definitely, every other track on there is superior for various reasons: Freedom (ft. Poetra Asantewaa) is so powerful, Black Man continues to hammer on the real place of the obibini in the world space: “black or white, the blood stays red/ black or white, brain dey your head” . What should make up beauty? Is it make-up, for instance? Hey says you can’t mess with an Ayigbe man. Wake Orp says “allow me to reintroduce myself”, Focus, Some Day predict what happens if we don’t relent, and so on…Hell, even Intro should be part of every child’s morning ritual.

He’s singing, he’s rapping, he’s playing, he’s programming. He’s something special.

The rhythm in which majority of the project comes in, is noteworthy. It’s homage to the roots of our sound, but at the same time, of contemporary worth. The space between past and present is how a perfect future comes about. Worlasi exists in that realm.

The way I felt when I heard Nusɛ, the way I feel when I hear One Life, is strange. Everyone who hears Nusɛ becomes a stalker too. Take Lynna for instance…this is what she texted to him when she stumbled upon his music one day:

“Found you on the weird part of YouTube. Then stalked you on soundcloud. Now making Sunday Jollof with my friends thinking how great your songs are!!!! Bless you.”

Nusɛ is Ewe, and translates as “inner strength”. It’s out there on the internet. It’s still available for download. For free. For free! It’s important you get it now! God, this Ayigbe boy is great! 


In this post, I render a track by track review of this album.

A spoken word piece accompanied by piano chords featuring a child poet reminding us that ‘this body we live in is rented’ and the importance of tapping into our inner souls and abilities for the greater good of mankind-finding the ‘balance’ in life: that balance that kept you from being distracted’ so we can ‘help another get in touch with his/her soul’.

On this military drumbeat driven track, Worlasi forcefully ask people (critics) to respect his hustle (chosen profession) and the direction he is going with his music. With many a musician especially up-coming ones under pressure to blow up, many choose to follow the norm-put out a this-is-here-for-today hot song rather than one that last forever.
Worlasi is one who is going the route the few brave souls have taken hence his caution:Hey, you got your space/ I got mi space/Shine me shine/ Make I shine Me/I’m not a bad guy/But you try getting to my space I go show you say I craze.

A part of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech about the struggles of the Negro opens this track. Worlasi features one of the amazing poets of our generation, Poetra Asantewa. With thumping drum, trumpet sound and haunting background voices, Freedom explores how one can break out of the ‘cell’ of life (fear) which renders humans:The system tries to dictate your future/You try to unzip yourself and you’d be made a dress that don’t suit ya… And in the process of opposing the known to unveil the unknown/All the world sees is stupidity embedded in our anatomy’
Arguably one of the best tracks on the album thanks to the depth of message. Freedom belongs to Poetra rather than Worlasi.

Focus features rappers Empee Raw and Krack Gyamfi. Optimism reeks all over this song which bubbles with an agbadza rhythm. Worlasi talks about not straying off his life goals (Keep fighting/keep your eye on the ball/No bull shy thing). Singing in Ewe and English to drum home his point, Empee Raw and Krack Gyamfi brought some energy to the track. Though the song carries a mid-tempo feel, Worlasi’s calmness is evident.

Na So translate from pidgin to English as ‘That is it’ and here Worlasi remind us to enjoy the gifts of life with the people we love. With its guitar/string bass line, switching between Ewe and English lingua, Worlasi admonishes us: don’t wait for me to die before you come to my funeral/Call me now make we comot/ And have a good time. You may be forgiven into assuming he featured rapper Lyrical Wanzam.

Violin strings, piano synths hovering over hip hop beats dominate Wake Orp (Up). Wake Orp is about striving for the best in life. The electro-synth chorus (You did it/Worla, You did it) is like an orchestra ensemble where all the instruments, in unison hit a crescendo. Worlasi points to some of the people who inspired his pidgin rap-The Fokn Bois (M3nsa and Wanlov), EL, C-Real and Skillions (obviously Lil’ Shaker) get honourable mentions. ‘See me today I say a bi rapper/ One day me too I go pay 25K to feature Busta (Rhymes)’. No malice intended with this line I guess. This is a personal favourite.

The instrumentations mirrors the classic Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley ‘Turn Your Light Down Low’ tune and carries some lush Carlos Santana-esque guitar riffs. On this track Mr. W croons somberly about a relationship gone south (I don’t care about my own tears/But I see you babe shed tears/The pain is more than I shed tears/So, baby make it stop). Shika’s lingering soulful vocals despite being trapped beneath the kick and bass, excellently offers shade to the song. One has to acknowledge Worlasi’s ability to pick the best voice to feature on his songs. The two sounded amazing, bringing their emotions to bear on it.Feels like I’m caught up in a shoot/ And still looks like I’m the only one in sight.


Another favourite off the album. That beautiful bass drop and violin strings (is it harmonica?) before his voices makes an appearance is awesome. Possible is about having a positive outlook to life knowing everything can be achieved: you never know who is great or who’s not/You never know until you try/And when you do/you go maybe fall/But go on and try.

And didn’t Meche Konnect, the US based songstress just slay with her verse and delivery? It’s like her words were lashing against the beat, reminiscent of Chrisette Michelle on Let Me Win). Notwithstanding the comparison, Meche Konnect killed it.

This piano driven rendition is about the swings of life- how everything can come full circle in the future: You got it all /We ain’t got shit but life goes on…/We no catch the clouds sef/ they call we stars.

This song explores the paradoxical situation of the black man; where the black man continuously doubt his own abilities and prefers to rely on the expertise of the white man.  The opening statement of the song is powerful:  I no barb/ Black man come see white man them dey jump around/Whiteman come see black man see them/ Them dey start run cos black man be scary man’. Black man is a call for self-believe, being self-relaint and eschewing the negative stereotype about the black man.

On this track, Worlasi goes into a conversation with his mum, telling her about his dreams of wanting to be a Superman and save the world (with his music) but not by ending up with a ‘white colour’ job. The beat is a mix of electro, trap and afrobeat influences giving it an interesting outlook.

Unlooking is a slang to mean ‘not looking or paying attention’ and here Worlasi talks about how people vow to not succumb to things but end up doing the exact opposite: Fine boy dey pass you frown like you no dey like but you spy am from the corner of your eye/ Shankus dey pass/automatically my guy you go spy’. The African rhythms are too groovy to refuse its call to dance.

This song draw parallels with his previous single Ay3 Adze (Well Done) in terms of instrumentation and singing style (though this beats is up-tempo ).  The song is a reminder to live happy, smile broadly despite the many obstacles and forget the troubles of the past: why don’t you smile? Let it go…Whatever has happened is in the past?’ Good advice.

 Apocalypse carries a pop-funk rhythm which would get you moving. But, the message in the song is relevantly piercing ‘Apocalypse dey come/But be like no bro dey run/ Taxes too dey rise/so be like everybody make wild.

Listening to Nus3 is nothing short of refreshing-from the arrangements to delivery. The album oozes authenticity; a breakaway from the generic hip life/azonto music replete on radio today. Nus3’s strength lies in the lyrics that sit comfortably within these well crafted, infectious jazzy, soul and hip hop and afro beats rhythms which fill the album. Judging by the tons of thoughts expressed on this album, Worlasi comes across as the old soul alive inhabiting a young body.
With Nus3, Worlasi joins a growing legion of young, brave artistes such as Kyekyeku and Delasi who a carving a niche by recording and performing an ‘unpopular’ genre of music and earning respect for it.  The album is yours to Love because there isn’t anything to hate.

Nov 10, 2016

New album from Blitz the Ambassador coming soon ...

The visionary sound of Blitz The Ambassador has been years in the making; with each album crafted to reflect a sonic and visual narrative unique to Blitz's personal experience. His fourth studio album 'Diasporadical' exemplifies this trajectory. Blitz spent a great deal of time traveling between Accra, Salvador Bahia and Brooklyn experiencing the similarities between the African diaspora. "The album title 'Diasporadical' was born out of this experience" Blitz explains. " The radical notion that no matter how fragmented the African diaspora is, the influence of rhythm and spirituality remains largely the same."

On Diasporadical, Blitz conjures his signature blend of Classic Hip-Hop and Contemporary African rhythms, enlisting producers like Optiks and IAMNOBODI to create a seamless fusion of live instruments and hard hitting beats. To bring his vision to life, Blitz assembled a supporting cast of continental and diaspora African artists such as Tumi, Akua Naru, Kamau, Patrice, M.anifest and Somi. The sonic result is a three act narrative, crafted like a stage play.

Diasporadical offers itself as a study of intersections between the global African experience and struggle. No track exemplifies this more than A(wake), written in response to police brutality and the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in America. Inspiration also came from the 'Fees Must Fall' movement in South Africa and the Afro-Brazilian protests during the Olympics.Besides it's politically charged message, Diasporadical also explores themes common in Blitz's past work. Immigration (Hello Africa), Spirituality (Heaven), Nostalgia (Long Time Coming) and Love (Juju Girl).

To reinforce these themes, Blitz directed a 15 minute short film called 'Diasporadical Trilogia'. The story follows a woman who mysteriously wakes up in three different continents. Through a magical realism lens, she shares her memories of growing up as a little girl in Brooklyn, a young lady in Accra and a middle aged woman in Salvador Bahia. With Diasporadical, Blitz has brought his sonic and visual journey full circle. From immigrant struggles on 'Native Sun', to touring in over 30 countries on 'Afropolitan Dreams', this is the album Blitz has been writing his whole life.


01. Act I
02. Hello Africa
03. Shine
04. Juju Girl
05. Act II
06. Heaven
07. Ogya
08. If Dem No Know
09. Act III ft. Somi
10. Long Time Coming
11. A(Wake)
12. Epilogue
13. Running

Oct 21, 2016

From Sweden: Music Is The Weapon - Sweet Choral Motion

 Afrobeat: It’s the best answer to a small-town Swedish winter.

So says Music is the Weapon, a Nordic response to the brash message and sound of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. A twelve-member strong team of top instrumentalists, the group’s core first formed in a remote town far north of Stockholm, and turned from a good-time one-off into Sweden’s best (and perhaps only) Fela-inspired outfit.

The band brings a distinct skill and savvy to the maverick musician’s signature sound, crafting hard-hitting instrumental originals with sing-along choruses. In a scene with few huge (and very few hugely funky) bands, Music Is The Weapon packs clubs and converts the casually curious into wildly dancing fans. Tracks like their latest single, “We Will Never Stop” rip through rousing anthems, offering a blisteringly funky alternative to the mainstream.

“We’re not fighting the same fight in Sweden as Fela did in Nigeria, of course, but I feel that in some way it’s political to play this kind of music in clubs here,” explains Christopher Ali Thorén, sax player and co-founder of Music Is The Weapon. “We give people the experience of big live band playing raw funk. For me it’s an act of resistance all its own.”

Music Is The Weapon have tapped into a previously unknown demand for something radically different and deeply funky. ”For one of our first shows in Stockholm, we thought we’d just play, and people can come if they come,” Thorén recalls. They watched the people come pouring into the club. “I realized then that people are starving for something like this.”

Music Is The Weapon


A little left of our usual trajectory (usual direction - solid Scandinavian soul searching), we discovered a Swedish band who managed to turn our heads. With a new album out now, Music Is The Weapon have also taken a new direction.

Through a new collaboration with producer Sven Johansson, the band has been able to channel his energy through the music console. The challenge has been to refine the ideas and pick out the songs from the massive sound stage Music Is The Weapon has become known for.

Now the dynamic band’s fifth album, Sweet Choral Motion, aims to further explore the sound that was born on the last album "Moving Foundation and Outer Space". This time they have streamlined the new album which has led to a whole new sound with the string arrangements now intermingled with vibrant percussion.

The result is a creative mix of spacejazz, afrobeat and soul. The intricate layers of instrumentation should also be a perfect test of your speakers clarity.

Oct 18, 2016

From France: Marabout Orkestra - Seven Lives

Marabout Orkestra presents "Seven Lives"

Le Marabout Orkestra is pleased to present its first opus!

Compositions that blend of Jazz-Funk influences the music of the African Continent and the Caribbean. After years of sound exploration, style Marabout Orkestra has become more than obvious.
It is in 2013 that the saxophonist and composer Johann protean Guihard founded the Marabout Orkestra. Adept crate digging for ten years, building a repertoire inspired by African music became his goal. Rather than specializing in one style, he prefers to fly over countries to offer a creative patchwork.
Quickly joined by five seasoned musicians, so this combo acoustic (no bass but a sousaphone) and electrical (3 saxes plugged effects) begins a surprising stylistic and sonic journey.
The first album is a reflection of a hybrid music, creating an imaginary folklore.
Songs recorded at Studio Bonison (Tribeqa, Malted Milk, Pura Fe ...) evoke the rhythms and melodies inspired by Africa and the Caribbean (Afrobeat, Ethiojazz, Highlife, Soca ...) that intertwine with the Spiritual Jazz, the Fusion Psyche or 70's ...
Much inspired by the creativity of the Souljazz Orchestra by the groove of Herbie Hancock and the psychedelia of "Moshi" Barney Wilen, this musical fusion creates a sense of fresh freedom, an instrumental freedom without pretense or claim ... 

Oct 7, 2016

Black Vulcanite ... interview

When futuristic Namibian rap trio Black Vulcanite burst onto the southern African hip-hop scene in 2013, they brought with them an air of consciousness that had been missing for some time. Ever since Tumi‘s Once Upon a Time in Africa and Zubz‘s Get Out, SA hip-hop had been missing the unspoken truths we were all witnessing but could do little about. Black Vulcanite’s Remember the Future, however, foreshadowed a rise in black consciousness throughout southern Africa. They’ve been relatively quiet since then, but with the rise of #FeesMustFall in South Africa, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and various other protest movements throughout the region, there’s perhaps no better time than now for the group’s return.

Despite the distance now between them – Ali is in Namibia, Mark has been travelling throughout Europe and Niko is in Beijing – the trio is back this month with another thought-provoking catalogue. Black Colonialists, their 22-track sophomore effort, is gutsy, sincere and insightful, peppered with intergalactic fiction and time travel.

The first track they recorded for the album, “Jupiter’s Love,” is an ode to the ever-elusive “woman of their dreams.” The song’s video, which we’re excited to premiere here today, is an exquisite reclamation of space at the Afrikaans Language Monument, also known as the Taal Monument in Paarl, Cape Town. It sees the group team up with Zunaid Green and the rest of The Visual Content Gang. In the conversation below, Black Vulcanite take us inside their galvanizing new project.

 The following interview has been edited and condensed.

The title track, “Black Colonialists,” opens the album. Can you elaborate on your intent with this project.

We chose the title “Black Colonialists” to set the theme for what the entire album is about, namely the occupation of economic, cultural, futuristic and historic spaces that haven’t always welcomed a black presence. The words often carry a negative connotation, so using the title is a repossession of meaning in itself. It’s an ode for all the people of different cultures who are defying stereotypes and taking on complexities that are not afforded to people of color. We are forced to rest in places with limited mobility, told what we are and what are are not.

This album, in the words of Saul Williams, speaks truth to power structures that box us in. The theme of course also forces us to reimagine the colonised and coloniser dialectic, using afrofuturism to reconcile challenging historical realities, forcing us to confront victimhood and instead imagine the diaspora not as a tragedy of stolen human potential but an unwitting invasion of all the places where black people had little influence.

Choosing this title was also about holding Africa’s enemies accountable while reclaiming narratives, looking at the transatlantic slave tragedy, Haiti, Jamaica, Portugal, Spain, as our own unique opportunities to influence culture and ultimately the future of our civilization.

Why did you pick “Jupiter’s Love” for the first video?

“Jupiter’s Love” is the first song we wrote specifically for this album. We wanted to shoot it because it is sublime in terms of subject matter. A compromise between our staunch political stance and playing to the taste of the market.

Shooting at Taal was of course very significant, especially given how problematic brutalist architecture can be. The monument is often seriously implicated as a vestige of apartheid modernity that locates past-aggressor political communities in “post-apartheid” society. Although the monument is much more than a commemoration to Afrikaans culture and settler history, we felt that it was important to perform our song there to dismantle the grip of the apartheid legacy and give way to a more progressive conversation on land and citizenship.

On the first track, you mention an “African Student Socialist Space Program.” What’s the link between this very afrocentric narrative and thoughts about space and futurism?

The African Student Socialist Space Program is an extension of the Zambian space programme of 1964, something that is seen as Africa’s laughable attempt to participate in the space race.
We decided to build on this idea and revitalise it because we felt it had a strong mythology, something that would inspire the very capable Africans of today to start dreaming again, to unite and collaborate towards a viable space programme which from a world view demonstrates the full scientific capabilities of any group of nations. We are still hopeful that one day we will see a concerted effort from African scientists to do something great. Of course these days, space is the place. Futurism just so happens to be the most effective lens of imagining and inspiring this kind of future.

What are your thoughts on African identities? What does it mean to you to be African?

Well at least to us, identity is about shared values… it’s hard to think of shared values for Africans in this colonial hangover that we are currently in though. There is a deliberate effort from the part of white capital to see that any ideas of a shared African identity remains fragmented.

The closest we’ve come to a shared African identity is Ubuntu, which is supposed to be the characteristic spirit of the African zeitgeist, but we wonder if it didn’t come a little too late. We’d like to think that being African is supporting all the positive values of African society, things like Ubuntu and self-determination, but in truth it would need to be a negotiation of African greatness in antiquity, colonial trauma and the idealism of present day.

It goes beyond [Thabo] Mbeki’s speech. To call it one thing would undermine the plurality of cultural values and identities that exist in different parts of the continent but to call it constructed also de-legitimises one shared African identity which exists for most parts of Africa. A more personal definition would be to say being African is viewing the unique culture and history of this continent as an opportunity and using it to become difficult to exploit.

Oct 6, 2016

"Doing It In Lagos"

Soundway Records present a new compilation of twenty one rare and mostly unavailable tracks from the slick and sassy world of Nigerian pop music and club culture of the early 1980s. Buoyed by an explosive oil boom and a return to democracy after a series of military dictatorships, Nigeria’s economy in the years of the early ‘80’s was mirrored by its recording industry as countless young artists and groups hit the airwaves and dancefloors of the capital and beyond. It was a glossy, brash new form of pop music born out of ashes of late 1970s disco and funk and, just as in America, was the soundtrack to a new generation for whom money, style and flirtation trumped the overblown psychedelia of the previous decade. Eager to sound as American as possible with no hint of the fervour for afro-beat, afro-rock and afrocentric thinking that the 1970s had thrown up, a new generation of young artists and performers turned their backs on their cultural roots in music and sought a new kind of stardom and fame firmly connected to the glossy, snazzy world of the 1980s that was erupting in the USA and Europe. The 1970s flares and cuban heels began to disappear, in their place came sleek suits, rolled-up sleeves, bow-ties, jumpsuits, leather jackets, greased hair and a firm nod in the stylistic direction of Michael Jackson.

The earliest cuts on the collection are firmly rooted within the deep disco sound of 1979 & 1980 before progressing into the boogie and pop that typified the years 1982-84: falsetto vocals, synths, slap-bass, handclaps and a sharp emphasis on the groove. Steered at the helm by a handful of legendary producers who had cut their teeth in the studios and groups 1970s (Jake Sollo, Lemmy Jackson, Tony Essien, Odion Iruoje) alongside some fresh new faces (Nkono teles and Tony Okoroji) the scene was fronted by a new generation of young singers both male and female and with the economy flourishing album sales were at an all time high. This was the age of the celebrity, mobile club-DJ and with vastly improved sound equipment, recorded music quickly began to displace live bands in the discos and clubs of a quickly expanding Lagos. These were places where a seamless mix of American and local music played all night - ever more pressure for Nigerian recordings to stand up against the offerings from overseas prompting some producers and artists to record in London or the USA despite Lagos having the best studios in West Africa.

With a never-ending discussion about what ‘World Music’ may or may not be and in a time where the influence of African, Latin and Caribbean music is firmly accepted as an instrumental and integral ingredient in the formation of disco and proto-house music, this compilation hopes to make a strong case for the Nigerian chapter of the story. This is disco-boogie-pop music that just happens to be from Nigeria and as such deserves to sit in the correct section of the record store and not in the restricting confines of the ‘World Music’ ghetto despite its geographic provenance. Echoes of the vast compendium of 1960 & 70s sounds from West Africa’s biggest recording industry are there if you listen carefully just as Soca and Latin music is echoed in the disco and soul of New York City but this is not music that deserves to be sidelined just because of where it’s from.

Many of the original albums these tracks are taken from fetch insane prices online due to their rarity and so it’s with great pleasure that we present a selection here that evokes a golden boomtime in Nigerian music history. It’s perhaps not for the purists who think they know what African music should sound like but hey, relax ...this music should make you make move, make you smile, (hopefully make some of you reminisce over your youth) …. it’s what it was made for.


01. Hotline – Fellas Doing It In Lagos
02. Peter Abdul – Don’t You Know
03. Steve Monite – Only You
04. Oby Onyioha – Enjoy Your Life
05. Kio Amachree – Ivory
06. Livy Ekemezie – Holiday Action
07. Willy Roy – Don’t Give Up
08. Danny Offia & The Friks – Funk With Me
09. Rick Asikpo & Afro Fusion – Too Hot
10. Terry Mackson – Distant Lover
11. Ofege – Burning Jungle
12. Odion Iruoje – Indentify With Your Root 
13. Mike Umoh – Shake Your Body
14. Burnis Moleme – Where is the Answer
15. Sony Enang – Don’t Stop that Music
16. Veno – Groove I like
17. Godfrey Odili – Let’s Do More Music
18. Toby Foyeh – Ore Mi
19. Gboyega Adelaja – Colourful Environment
20. Lexy Mella – On the Air
21. Nkono Teles – Be My Lady (Mix)

Oct 4, 2016

New album ... Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Madjafalao is the new album from Benin's Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, a group which spans afrobeat and funk, mostly based around the tradition of Vodun rhythms. Its release next month will mark their first album since 2011's Strut-released Cotonou Club, which saw them share their first new, recorded music since the early 1980s.

With the new album out next month, you can check out a trailer for it below which features collaborator Calypso Rose singing their praises and talking about the connection that she made with the group despite a lack of joint rehearsals. As she simply puts it, "they are dynamite!"

The group was originally founded in Benin in 1968 by bandleader Melome Clement with the years that followed seeing them play alongside Fela Kuti and many others. Their name naturally originally came from the variety of rhythms that they would incorporate into their playing. The deaths in the early 1980s of original members guitarist Papillon and drummer Leopold, as well as Benin going into a period of economic hardship and decline under Mathieu Kerekou's dictatorship saw them enter into a hiatus.

In 2008, the band reformed with three original members and their last album was released in 2011 before the death of leader Melome Clement in 2012. A few months after his death, the rest of the group decided to keep the spirit of the group alive and continue in his honour, entering into the studio and working on music which now sees release on Madjafalao. It is out on October 21, via Because Music.


01. Madjafalao
02. Wangnigni
03. Heritage
04. Finlin ho
05. Omonyi
06. Africa
07. Migbe
08. Ouesse
09. Wolou
10. Baba djibe  

Sep 29, 2016

From Germany: Tiliboo Afrobeat - Silabaa

Tiliboo Afrobeat is a Berliner band led by composer-vocalist-percussionist Omar Diop. Omar comes from a region in the south of Sénégal called Casamance, one of the heartlands of the west-african Mandinka cultural heritage. As a child, Omar assimilated rhythms and songs from many of the different cultural groups living in this region, including Mandinka, Wolof, and Jola. By the time he was 15 years old he was already a professional choreographer for popular dance groups in the Casamance, but this was only the beginning of his musical journey.
Omar came to Europe for the first time in the 1992 to teach percussion workshops, but quickly found work as a performer, playing with african and european jazz musicians on stages all over Europe. It was during this time that he conceived and developed his personal style of afrobeat music, mixing jazz and other international influences with the traditional rhythms and melodies from Casamance. Shortly after his arrival in Berlin in 1997, he founded Lion Express, the first version of the band that would become Tiliboo.  The band moves effortlessly from funk and afro-cuban salsa to deep Casamance trance rhythms, from Fela-Kuti-style afrobeat to traditional Mandinka griot repertoire.


Afrobeat, well or simply called Afrobeat Afro, is considered one of the most contagious Blackmusic substreams ever a more than happy and warm seen Dauergast in SOULTRAIN. 

International icons of the genre, which originated in the seventies in the western coastal belt of Africa from Nigeria through Benin, Togo, Ghana (with the Ghana typical Afrobeat ingredient Highlife) and the Ivory Coast to the secret "music capitals" of Africa, Mali and Burkina Faso, has, as thus Fela Anikulapo Kuti or his son Femi Kuti, Antibalas, to name the Orchestra Baobab, Osibisa, Manu Dibango or Tony Allen only a very few are regular onlookers in SOULTRAIN and make "their" genre , the Afrobeat, all honor. 

The Omar Lion Express, predecessor band of Tiliboo Afrobeat from Berlin with mastermind Omar Diop from Senegal align themselves with this very proud tradition and return as Tiliboo Afrobeat the best of the genre out that it has so notoriously famous blank are: Elements of Soul and radio, of jazz, rock, Caribbean ideals and popular mainstream to Reggae mate when Afrobeat and the new Tiliboo Afrobeat album "Silabaa" most energetically and to show what is the real core of Afrobeat music philosophy: the heat of the maximum, danceable moment ever.So sprayed in the summer 2014 in the Berlin Butterama Studios recorded "Silabaa" with its nine titles energetic in all directions, relies on African folklore as well as on Central European Jazz injections and crunchy deep funk breaks, always characterized by the indispensable during Afrobeat voluminous and sleek Bläsersätze. 

That Tiliboo Afrobeat from a small network of international musicians from the already mentioned Senegal, from France, the United States, Burkina Faso and Germany composed gives the album additionally a multicultural base, which at the same time always authentic, honest music itself - Glimmering Afrobeat with easy retrospective Soul sparks - can speak for themselves. 

This is particularly evident at the end of "Silabaa", the first of a short, relaxing and necessary tempos pausing with the penultimate song "Sama Natale" before equal to the last track "Goré Ngaa" again full throttle, in a very direct, especially with concomitant, high volume control working perfectly to show a convincing way, what is going on with this Afrobeat, especially for untrained ears, ever to be."Silabaa" of Tiliboo Afrobeat is entertaining and a prime example of the possibilities of the most beautiful and certainly the coolest black music styles of music at all: the absolutely contagious, immensely likeable Afrobeat - watch out!

Sep 27, 2016

Sir Jean & NMB Afrobeat Experience – Permanent War

A state of things, a scream from the heart, a lament, a song soaring in emergency, asking questions… Why are we living in this perpetual war ? This never interrupting violence ?

You are most welcome to join NMB and Sir Jean‘s quest for answers, all together “One for All and All for One“, and evoke a different possible world, one that wouldn’t revolve around profits, one that wouldn’t take for granted the routine of steadily violating all essential human rights, like ours does extensively.

SIR JEAN & NMB AFROBEAT EXPERIENCE comes as the reunion of a singing wizard with a New Orleans-style brass band. After having carved our previous album DEMOCRAZY in West Africa’s red marble, we proceed with our AFROBEAT EXPERIENCE along with SIR JEAN, a magnetic singer with a stunningly deep voice. 

Sep 14, 2016

From Namibia: Black Vulcanite - Black Colonialists

AFTER facing countless questions from fans on when their new album drops, Black Vulcanite yesterday announced that the day had finally arrived. And this time around, it was no April fool's joke.

Titled 'Black Colonialists', the album is a body of work that is themed around a Afrofuturistic theme as is evident from the cover art as well as most of the song titles.

Speaking to The Namibian soon after the announcement yesterday, Mark Mushiva expressed regret that it took so long for the album to drop but noted that is was unavoidable due to certain factors.

“It's really sad to say but a host of things kept us from releasing. Some of them included the fact that we had to migrate in terms of producers and had to start writing everything from scratch. I was also in Europe for quite some time so that played a role as well.”

The 19-track album, by the group, also made up of Nikolai 'Okin' Tjong­arero and Alain 'Ali That Dude' Villet, is well worth the wait, he said, and has a lot of hidden work as well as a concept art booklet. “We wanted to take time to make sure we really put out a very good product.”

'Black Colonialists' is heavily centred around Afrofuturism which is defined by Wikepedia as “a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of colour, but also to revise, interrogate and re-examine the historical events of the past”.

Black Vulcanite has throughout their work gravitated towards this theme and this time around, went a little further. The cover art features African heroes such as Steve Biko, Nora Schimming-Chase, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Daniel Tjongarero Snr, Thomas Sankara, Niko Bessinger, Hendrik Witbooi and Mandume ya Ndemufayo. “When we conceptualised the album, we asked ourselves what we wanted to project. We weaved in all the concepts from our first EP and amplified them. Afrofuturism itself has always been central to the Black Vulcanite motif,” Mushiva said.

The group worked with producers like Maloon The Boom, BeatSlangers and Chris-Tronix as well as newcomers such as Martin Amushendje, amongst others.

Collaborations on the album are packed with surprises, including award-winning duo Star Dust who feature on two tracks, 'Brazil' and 'Waiting for God'. “We've always had a deep respect for a lot of Star Dust's work and after last year's NAMAs when we performed together, we discussed possible collaborations,” Mushiva said. The two groups soon went into studio together. “There was a deep synergy between the way they sang and our songwriting,” Mushiva said of the musical connection that blossomed.

The first video from the album is expected to drop this month but Mushiva declined to give a specific date, saying that they want fans to fully digest the album first.

For purchases, fans can check out the group's social media pages for the numbers of distributors. Negotiations are still underway to get the album stocked in local music outlets.


In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published his seminal How To Write About Africa essay. In it, the Kenyan author takes aim at the West for their one-dimensional depictions of Africa (war, famine, dying babies…that kind of shit). A year later, Wainaina’s essay grew into a book and still remains one of the sharpest pieces of satire and political insights in the continent’s literary canon.

This month, Namibian rap outfit Black Vulcanite released their debut album Black Colonialists – a follow up to their 2013 15-track ‘EP’ Remember The Future. As with their debut EP, the album is “a look back at the future”, with heavy Afrofuturist themes over neck-snapping snares, thumping kick patterns and jazzy melodies.

There are plenty of politics too.

“In the name of my fucking poor people, I summon you,” Mark Mushiva kicks off the album. On How To Rap About Africa the trio follow Wainaina’s tradition, knocking down one stereotype after the other. “Black, genocide, famine, safari…” the group lists on the chorus.

Given the collective nervous condition currently being experienced by black people, the world over, Black Colonialists comes across a message for the times. And as Wainaina did with How To Write About Africa, so too are Black Vulcanite staking a claim in constructing a new canon with their latest release.

Sep 9, 2016

From Zimbabwe: The Monkey Nuts

The Monkey Nuts are a Zimbabwean hip hop group consisting of three members: Joshua Chiundiza, Tinotenda Tagwirei and Impi Maph. They have been known for introducing a new sound on the scene in Harare since 2011, and are preparing to break out to the world as they got signed to renowned label BBE (UK) for the release of their EP Boombap Idiophonics, expected to drop on 27 April 2015. We spoke to Joshua for an introduction to a group that could be seen as an anomaly in the Zim hip hop scene, but that’s ultimately a product of the interconnected world in which influences bounce across stages and the internet.

“Have you heard how they catch monkeys in Brazil, Julie? Let me tell you. They put a nut in a bottle, and tie the bottle to a tree. The monkey grasps the nut, but the neck of the bottle is too narrow for the monkey to withdraw its paw and the nut. You would think the monkey would let go of the nut and escape, wouldn’t you? But it never does. It is so greedy it never releases the nut and is always captured. Remember that story, Julie. Greed is a dangerous thing. If you give way to it, sooner or later you will be caught.”

The above quotation is one of my favorites, only this is not Brazil but Zimbabwe and these are The Monkey Nuts! What’s the story? 

Yeah, the name is an interesting one. Wish the story behind it was as insightful as the idiom you referred to. To clarify things a bit, it’s actually The Monkey Nuts, like The Who or The Bhundu Boys, and not just Monkey Nuts. It’s a mere translation of the Shona term ‘nyimo’. Nyimo are known as groundnuts or monkey nuts in English. We just liked it and it seems to catch the attention of people more often than not.

You guys were apparently born and raised in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, a country that has seen a lot of changes in the last decade and a half but someone you seem to have skipped over a lot of thin ice successfully. How did you hone your craft in the years before you ‘caught your break’?

Zim has been going through a bit of a tough time indeed. But Zimbabweans are quite the resilient bunch. And that’s how one has to be in such times, resolute. And it’s on the backdrop of such difficulties that we believe we can push through by offering something creative and innovative. The changes that our country has gone through have been good for us in a sense. They’ve challenged us to think and produce something we believe will be authentic and genuine.

We’ve been at this ‘seriously’ for close to four years now. It’s not really that long actually, but from the moment we started out, we’ve managed to link up with some individuals and organisations that have provided us with maximum support. Organisations like the Magamba Network, Zimbabwe German Society and Alliance Francais de Harare. They simply liked what we were doing and offered to support us.

We basically do everything ourselves in terms of the creative process. We write our own songs, compose and produce the music. We do play instruments (guitar, bass, synth, keys, emcee, vocals), we are a band ultimately, and the fact that we are cousins contributes to that synergy. We have spent a lot of time together and we know each other really well. It’s always mainly just the three of us when we are conceptualising a project and we usually bring in session players for live performances/recordings (drums, mbira, marimba, bass).

What are the examples of contemporary Zimbabwean issues that stir your creative muses and why?
We’d like to think that we are experimental and we are often caught up in between two minds. We have our African heritage, but then we also carry that which we have tried to shake of quite unsuccessfully; our colonial past. From our observation, Zimbabwe is pretty interesting in that regard. We are trying to forge out a strong Zimbabwean/African identity, but are yet to fully understand what that actually means.

A lot of what we do, and specifically the way we look at each other from a cultural perspective, is still heavily influenced by our colonial past. Of course one may say, but for how long? How long will you allow your past to lord over you? Well, the moment we understand why it is that we do things in a particular way, will be the moment that it will be easier for us to embrace change.
It’s this observation that inspires our music, that continuous clash of two worlds. It’s another reason why we like to work and collaborate with artists and musicians from different genres. Our latest project is a collaboration with a French underground DJ from Marseille [Dj Oil from France, ed.] who’s inspired by jazz/blues rhythms from the 50’s and 60’s. The collaboration also features vocals and mbira from one of Zimbabwe’s leading female musicians [Hope Masika, ed.].

Following the success of Mizchif’s ‘Fashionable’ in the nineties that was a roaring success across the continent, what other Zimbabwean rappers have stepped up to take up the mantle? And what is the average perception or knowledge of the Zimbabwean hip hopper about the celebrated rapper known as MF Doom (Daniel Dumile)?

Daniel Dumile is a bit of a mystery to everyone isn’t he? The US stake claim to his fame more than anyone else. But there is definitely acknowledgement of his Zimbabwean heritage by the Zimbabwean hip-hop puritan, but wouldn’t say that his influence has been that substantial. Mizchif on the other hand, yeah he definitely inspired a lot of heads on the scene. The 90’s was a pretty good era… we had Miz, before him there was Peace of Ebony and Zim Legit [Zimbabwe Legit, ed.] over in the States. There was also Shingi ‘Mau Mau’ who’s still at it and the late King Pinn. Now we’ve got so much more talent on display, emcees like Aerosol, Outspoken, Upmost, San Sebb, Synik, T.Shoc. Fore, Jnr Brown, just to name a few.

Do you imagine that your sign up by BBE will make you a force to reckon with in African hip hop?
We’re happy that we signed with BBE, but this is were the work really begins for us. We’re not really concerned about competing with other artists across the continent. Our main objective has always been to create a global product in terms of our music. Signing with BBE means we are close to achieving that, but there is plenty of work to be done. We are still growing; we are still finding our sound.
What is the state of Zimbabwean hip hop, and where do The Monkey Nuts feature in its social hierarchy?

What is the state of Zimbabwean Hip Hop? Interesting question. Wish there was an easy answer. The talent and work ethic is there, there’s no doubt about that. The scene has grown, but its still pretty small. We have taken a lot from the American blueprint, but done very little to break it down and redefine it for ourselves. In our opinion, there is still a lack of identity, that’s the main thing. It’s this lack of identity that has blunted our creative edge.

We’ve got emcees over here comparing themselves to or duplicating American and Western artists in style and sound. The same goes for the producers. They will gladly sample Nina Simone or Howling Wolf and completely ignore the sounds and rhythms from Zimbabwean music legends like John Chibadura or James Chimombe. It’s not like that with hip-hop acts from Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa for example. And that is the main thing we felt we had to find in terms of The Monkey Nuts, identity. And we’re getting there. We aren’t really sure where or if we fit in, in terms of the Zimbabwean Hip Hop hierarchy. What we do know is that we are Zimbabwean and we are making hip-hop, global hip-hop. And that’s the plan for us, to record, release and perform our music on an international platform.

You can ‘catch’ The Monkey Nuts online via their Facebook page or Twitter.

On their Soundcloud page you can listen to the ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ EP which can be downloaded for free here.

Sep 5, 2016

From Zimbabwe: Wells Fargo - Watch Out!

Vinyl Me Please writes:

Every once in awhile an album or band comes out of nowhere and takes over your turntable. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s one of the best parts of loving this stuff in the first place and when it does, you feel like you’ll never be the same. And, dramatics aside, you probably won’t be. There’s a special kind of love you develop for music you wake up one day knowing nothing about and go to sleep feeling overwhelmed by. A special attachment you develop to the things that wreck you.

That’s how Wells Fargo’s album Watch Out! was for us. The people who made this record, and the world it came out of, make for the most compelling and heart wrenching story we’ve ever heard behind an album we’ve featured. No question, the history of this thing is going to shake you up. And the music itself is no less forceful. Released as a call to arms for a blooming civil war and kept from a full release by racist labels, Watch Out! is the kind of full frontal revolution rock that would have made flower children squeamish and Jimi Hendrix weep. There’s so much more I could say about it but we’ve brought in some of our favorite writers to do that for me and I can’t wait for you to read what they’ve put together. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this: This album matters in the same way all the great ones do. Because of the freedom it brings whenever it’s played.


Wells Fargo were part of a counterculture that has been almost totally forgotten, even in its country of origin. In the 1970s, during the last decade of Zimbabwe’s War of Independence, rock music exploded with a message of unity and hope. Wells Fargo was at the forefront of the “Heavy Music” movement serving as fuel for the fight. Originally released as a series of singles, this is the first time their music has been released since its initial, limited pressing. More than four decades later we proudly present to you, in collaboration with Now-Again Records, Watch Out! for the first time in album form. 


Don’t let the all-American corporate name fool you. Wells Fargo were an edgy, guitar driven and politically dangerous band from 1970s Rhodesia — a group that defied the odds of political apartheid and took incredible risks in performing their music. While their sound draws parallels to the more melodic works of Jimi Hendrix and (especially) Black Merda, Wells Fargo cut a unique take on rock n roll; one of haunting melodies and relentless rhythm.

At the time this style of music was known simply and appropriately as ‘heavy rock’ in Africa, and the groups playing in this style adopted the stance of peace, love and unity, all the while being seen as a crucial force in the liberation movement of the continent. Influenced by the screenings of Woodstock, several rock festivals were organized in the 1970s, proving to be culturally progressive — progressive in that they were fully integrated during a time in which segregation was still an ugly reality. “Watch Out”, the group’s most famous recording, was adopted by the liberation movement as a theme song, prompting the menacing investigative arm of the Rhodesian government’s Special Branch to spy on both the group and their fans. It was this political heat that eventually resulted in the brutal beating of the band by police following a concert brought to an abrupt halt.

Sep 2, 2016

Vaudou Game - Kidayu

When it came to recording ‘Kidayu’, the new album from Vaudou Game, released 7th October on Hot Casa Records, Peter Solo did not need to consult the oracle, instead relying on the voodoo rhythms and raw afro-funk and soul that has served him so well.

Solo immersed his Lyon companions in the flourishing Afrobeat rhythms of the 1970s along with those of traditional song. But far from being backward-looking, together they deliver an original style of music, dynamic and jubilant. Marked at times by James Brown-style shouts, ‘Kidayu’ pairs voodoo harmonies with funk and blues.Born in Aného-Glidji, Togo, the birthplace of the Guin tribe and a major site of the Voodoo culture, Peter Solo was raised with this tradition’s values of respect for all forms of life and the environment. At an early age, he made a makeshift guitar, and his music propelled him into the spotlight, his undeniable talent earning the respect of renowned African artists. Mastering traditional percussion instruments, his desire to discover the world and to carry his practice forward led him to England, where he became immersed in gospel music and then eventually to France where he calls home today.

The idea of integrating the haunting voodoo lines, sung in honour of the Divinities, into energetic 70s afrofunk, is, in Solo’s mind, an obvious extension of the analogy he found between this voodoo tradition and trance inducers such as the soul, funk, and rhythm ‘n blues of James Brown and Otis Redding.Solo had a vision of codifying the musical scales that are found in sacred songs of Beninese and Togolese vodun music. The terms “vadou” and “voodoo,” which come from the word “vodun,” refer to spirit and name a blended culture of voodoo practices from different West African ethnicities.Entirely produced, recorded, mixed and mastered using vintage material and instruments produced in the 70s, old cassette tapes were the “grigris” (or lucky charms) which proved most effective to ward off digital corruption of their music and allow them to thrive as a tight-knit group with a solid groove.

Kidayu means “sharing” in Kabye, the language spoken in northern Togo, and sharing, is the philosophy of Vaudou Game – both in their recorded music and on stage.

In songs like ‘Natural Vaudou’, ‘Cherie Nye’ and ‘La Vie C’est Bon’, the unbeatable trance rhythm inherited from James Brown and Fela Kuti, icons of Funk and Afrobeat, are evident.

Across ‘Kidayu’, Vaudou Game sound like the big bands from the golden age of Ethiopian dance music but it’s in songs like ‘La Dette’, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Elle Decide’ where they show their greatest inspiration; the rumbling soul and funk of James Brown. Raw funky basslines let Solo’s lyrics bounce back and forth until the result is so pulsating and mesmeric you just have to move your feet.The ecstatic voodoo rituals that Solo grew up with are used as a fertile basis for Vaudou Game’s sound. In using the original form, he decorates his songs with guitars, keyboards, bass, rhythms and counter rhythms, and a steaming pair of brass.

Since the release of their debut album ‘Apiafo’ in 2014, Vaudou Game have never turned down the heat on over 130 stages across Europe, Africa, America and Asia and can count BBC Radio 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson as a fan, voting the album ‘Record of the Week’ on his show.On ‘Kidayu’, Solo is joined by Vicente Fritis on keyboards/backing vocals, Jerôme Bartolome on saxophone/percussions/backing vocals, Guilhem Parguel on trombone/percussions/backing vocals, Simon Bacroix on bass/backing vocals, Hafid Zouaoui on drums, and sound engineer Stephane Pauze.

Aug 16, 2016

Light & Sound Of Mogadishu

There was a time in the 70s when Mogadishu was the coolest place in Africa. It was a city of whitewashed coral houses, colonial arcades on tree-lined boulevards and Italian Art Deco cafes looking over a cobalt-blue sea.

And it was funky. Young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in billowing direh. Young dudes in bell bottoms and sporting serious Afros, strutted past groups of men in mabwis kilts and white skull caps. And the local bands – inspired by James Brown, The Doors and Santana – were laying down some of the heaviest organ-led funk on the continent.

Sadly, that Mogadishu is long gone. But its spirit lives on in this collection of 45s just released by Afro7 Records.

The singles were originally released by the local Light & Sound label. The label was an off-shoot of the ‘Light & Sound’ electric appliance shop, both owned by local entrepreneur Ali Hagi Dahir. Not only could Light & Sound sell you the record player, they could sell you the LP to play on it as well.
The recording studio sat in a back room just off the main sales floor. It was the first privately owned studio in Somalia. Unlike the State-owned studios at Radio Mogadishu, here musicians were free to experiment and get into their own groove.

The best tracks from the time are built around the deep groves of Ahmed Naalji and his super-tight Sharero Band. Naalji cut his teeth playing with the Radio Mogadishu Orchestra, but soon became frustrated by the style of music they were forced to play.

It wasn’t long before he started his own band. Originally called ‘Gemini’, they were soon known as the Sharero Band, and shamelessly copied the heavy funk coming out of America at the time. They quickly become the hottest band in Mogadishu performing every weekend at the Jazeera nightclub in the south of the city, the Juba nightclub in the centre and the Al-Curuba nightclub in the iconic hotel of the same name.

This particular release is the first from a new label, Afro7 Records. It’s an off-shoot of the popular website,, which has become the go-to place on the Internet for East African music.
It’s an album of two halves – the first featuring funkier stuff from the Sharero Band, the second focusing on the more traditional sounds from Magool, the biggest female Somali artist of her time.
Personally, I would have loved an entire album of the grinding keyboards and wah wah guitar of the Sharero band. But with Mogadishu Light & Sound only ever pressing 150 copies of each their singles, I understand that they may be difficult to lay hands on.

So I’m simply thankful for Side A. And know it’s going to get a bit of a workout over the months to come.

(Just one more thing: I’m not sure what the sources were for these songs – I can’t imagine they’d be great – but the mastering is excellent. The artwork is topnotch too. So well done Afro7!)


Blue and White, the colors of the Somali flag, Blue and White, the colors of Mogadishu. This city, that over the last seventeen years has become a symbol of anarchy and suffering, was once one of East Africa’s most appealing capitals. Friends and colleagues who lived in Mogadishu in the early 1970s remember a city of whitewashed corral houses, with Arabic arches and elaborately carved rosettes, of Italian art-deco cafes and colonial administrative buildings, a city of tree shaded boulevards, and the cobalt blue of the Indian Ocean. They remember a city where young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in colorful and billowing Direh, where young dudes grew Afros and strutted, in bell bottoms, past groups of men in ma’awis kilts and white skullcaps. Today, living far from Mogadishu, these friends and colleagues feed their memories with a steady diet of thirty-year old recordings by their favorite poets and singers from ‘back home’.

These rich memories, and reveries, of the early 1970s are captured in this set of 45s on the ‘Light & Sound’ label from Mogadishu. The label was an offshoot of the successful ‘Light & Sound’ electronic appliance store located in the center of the city. The store, which shared a building with the famous ‘Cinema Hamar’ (which was the first enclosed movie theater in Mogadishu), and the label, were both owned by Dahir Omar. The recording studio was located in a back room off the main sales floor, and may have been the first private recording studio in Somalia (at the time most recordings were made in the studios of Radio Mogadishu or Radio Hargeysa). Today, both the store and the ‘Cinema Hamar’ are closed. I do not know how many singles were released on ‘Light & Sound’ (I have not yet been able to track down Dahir Omar, or anyone who worked at the store), but the 45s below represent some of Somalia’s most loved artists.

Blue and White, the colors of the Somali flag, Blue and White, the colors of Mogadishu. This city, that over the last seventeen years has become a symbol of anarchy and suffering, was once one of East Africa’s most appealing capitals. Friends and colleagues who lived in Mogadishu in the early 1970s remember a city of whitewashed corral houses, with Arabic arches and elaborately carved rosettes, of Italian art-deco cafes and colonial administrative buildings, a city of tree shaded boulevards, and the cobalt blue of the Indian Ocean. They remember a city where young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in colorful and billowing Direh, where young dudes grew Afros and strutted, in bell bottoms, past groups of men in ma’awis kilts and white skullcaps. Today, living far from Mogadishu, these friends and colleagues feed their memories with a steady diet of thirty-year old recordings by their favorite poets and singers from ‘back home’.

These rich memories, and reveries, of the early 1970s are captured in this set of 45s on the ‘Light & Sound’ label from Mogadishu. The label was an offshoot of the successful ‘Light & Sound’ electronic appliance store located in the center of the city. The store, which shared a building with the famous ‘Cinema Hamar’ (which was the first enclosed movie theater in Mogadishu), and the label, were both owned by Dahir Omar. The recording studio was located in a back room off the main sales floor, and may have been the first private recording studio in Somalia (at the time most recordings were made in the studios of Radio Mogadishu or Radio Hargeysa). Today, both the store and the ‘Cinema Hamar’ are closed. I do not know how many singles were released on ‘Light & Sound’ (I have not yet been able to track down Dahir Omar, or anyone who worked at the store), but the 45s below represent some of Somalia’s most loved artists.

‘Shimbir Yohou’ is one of Magool’s most famous recordings from the 1970s. Addressing herself to a little bird, she sings, ‘where do you fly? Do you serve the people, or do you just follow the air streams? Can you take a message for me? I am lost and tired. Little bird can you find your way? If I tell you where to go, can you take a message for me?’

Hibbo Nuura, who today lives in Rochester, Minnesota, and has been performing for almost three decades, made some of her earliest recordings for the ‘Light & Sound’ label. Born in the Northeastern city of Boorama, she grew up in Mogadishu, and started singing at the age of 7. In 1970, when she was only 14 years old, the singer and composer Ahmed Rabsha discovered Hibbo, and three years later, he brought her to the ‘Light & Sound’ recording studio.

Ahmed Rabsha was born in Mogadishu in 1945, and started singing when he was only 13 years old. He made his public debut in 1963, performing at weddings and parties, and six years later formed his first group, ‘The Soul Full Five’. In 1970, he was hired as a music teacher at the Institute for Traditional Arts in Mogadishu. One of his first responsibilities was to recruit talented young female singers and teach them a new repertoire of patriotic songs (General Mohammed Siad Barre had taken power in 1969, and was just kicking off his ‘social revolution’). In 1974, Rabsha won a scholarship to study music in the Sudan, and by the end of the decade he had moved to Dubai, where he trained the Police Orchestra. He spent the last years of his life in London working on a history of Somali music. He passed away last fall.

This duo with Ahmed Rabsha, which was released back in 1973, was Hibbo’s second recording. She described this music to me as Somali Rumba.
These next four tracks are built on the deep-grooves of Ahmed Naaji and his great ‘Sharero Band’. The Naaji family is from the Benadir ethnic minority, who have roots in Yemen and the Persian Gulf, and who were some of Mogadishu’s earliest residents. In the early 1970s, Ahmed, who for many years was a member of the Radio Mogadishu orchestra, formed a band to perform a new style of Somali music; one that was inspired by Santana, The Doors, and James Brown.

His new group was originally called ‘Gemini’, but by the early 1970s it was going by the name ‘Sharero band’. The core of the group consisted of Ahmed on keyboards, Ali Naaji on bass guitar, Anter Naaji on drums, Said Abdallah on lead guitar, and Mohammed Abadallah ‘Jeeri’ on lead vocals. They performed most weekends at the Jazeera nightclub in southern Mogadishu, at the Juba nightclub in central Mogadishu, or at the Al-Curuba nightclub, located in the majestic Al-Curuba hotel. The group split up some time in the 1980s. Today, Ahmed Naaji lives in Yemen, and continues to perform throughout the Somali Diaspora, Ali Naaji lives in Denmark, and a new generation of Naajis is making music in Toronto.