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The Sound Of Africa Mix Vol. 1

August 5th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments
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It is peculiar that even in South Africa, music from Africa commands its own section. Even rock acts from South Africa are liable to be relegated to the South Africa section, not in the (much bigger and more prominent) Rock shelves. Music retailers are idiots.

So, straight from the Africa section, this mix of music from the continent. When I compiled it, I had two constituencies in mind: those for whom such a mix might serve as an introduction to the wonderfully diverse yet synchronous sound of Africa, and those who already have an appreciation for it and might look for some new stuff. The former category of people is well-served, I think, with a very accessible selection. I hope the latter group might find a few tracks they had not previously heard.

While this mix is a sound of Africa, it cannot be ignored that in urban areas one is as likely, perhaps more likely, to hear the strains of American R&B or hip hop, or local music drawing their influence from these genres. In some cases, such as South Africa”s hugely popular kwaito, R&B and rap fused with local musical forms to create a sound which is distinctly indigenous. As an example, take Mandoza”s Nkalakatha (download). This mix does mostly exclude such musical forms ““ mainly, I must admit, because I”m not very well versed in that regard to create a representative mix.

Of course, many of these songs embrace Western influences. The guitar on Thomas Mapfumo”s Set The People Free owes something to Santana; Hugh Masekela is a jazz musician; Koffi Olomidé freely draws from pop and R&B, without compromising his African traditions; Cesaria Evoria”s Cape Verdan tradition is influenced by Latin sounds of Portugal and Brazil, and so on.

Some of these artists have remarkable stories. During the liberation war against Rhodesia”s racist regime, Thomas Mapfumo was the poet laureate for the armed struggle which would culminate in the birth of Zimbabwe in 1980. But by the mid-90s, the one-time supporter of Robert Mugabe became disillusioned with the tyrant, and made his opposition known. He now lives in exile in the US.

Salif Keita comes from a royal line which should have ruled out a career in music. But as an albino, he was ostracised by his family, and here he shares a mix with a man of the griot underclass, Mory Kanté, who was born in Guinea but grew up in Mali. Papa Wemba, who was a local chief in what was the Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), was jailed a few years ago in France for smuggling illegal immigrants into Europe.

Algeria”s Khaled faced death threats from Islamic fundamentalists who objected to his progressive lyrics; they also issued death threats to other popular Algerian musicians, and proceeded to murder one. And South Africa”s Fortune Xaba, a saxophonist, won the country”s Road To Fame talent competition (which actually frequently realised its premise by producing gifted performers) in 1996, had a brief career in which he released two albums, and suddenly died in 2003.

If this mix proves popular, I have another one lined up. Let me know what you think. As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R.

1. Mory Kant̩ РYeke Yeke (Guinea/Mali)
2. Cesária Évora – Nho Antone Escade (Cape Verde)
3. Tour̩ Kunda РWadini (Senegal)
4. Salif Keita – N B’I Fe (Mali)
5. Ismaël Lo – Tajabone (Senegal)
6. Fortune Xaba – Mi Fe Le Wa Kuti (South Africa)
7. Papa Wemba – Le Voyageur (DR Congo)
8. Khadja Nin – Mama Lusiya (Burundi)
9. Kampi Moto & George Phiri – Maio Maio (Zambia/Malawi/South Africa)
10. Habib Koit̩ & Bamada РWassiy̩ (Mali)
11. Hugh Masekela – Happy Mama (South Africa)
12. Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited – Set the People Free (Zimbabwe)
13. Remmy Ongala – Inchi Vetu (Our Country) (Tanzania)
14. Youssou N’Dour – Mame Bamba (Senegal)
15. Koffi Olomid̩ feat Coumba Gawlo РSi Si Si (DRCongo)
16. Khaled – Aicha (Algeria)
17. Tarika – Aretina (Madagacar)

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  1. whiteray
    August 6th, 2008 at 23:02 | #1

    This looks phenomenal! I can hardly wait ’til the download finishes!

  2. wzjn
    August 7th, 2008 at 01:45 | #2

    Having gone out with a few women from the “dark continent”, it’s nice to hear representation!

  3. zoot
    August 8th, 2008 at 07:21 | #3

    Lovely mix of classics, old favourites and one or two unfamiliars. Excellent compilation. I guess Baaba Maal will be on the next one?

  4. Any major dude with half a heart
    August 8th, 2008 at 08:43 | #4

    Thanks for the kind comments. Of course Baaba Maal will feature in Volume 2. I had to hold a few important acts over…

  5. The Mood Indicator
    August 8th, 2008 at 12:27 | #5

    Very fine compilation dude!

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