Monday music: Musique Côte-d’Ivoire est diversifiée

This week I’m sharing a variety of musical styles from Côte d’Ivoire (independence from France: 7 August 1960): reggae, ‘Afro-blues’, zoblazo, zouglou, and a sort of hip-hop fusiony thing. Fusing with other African styles, that is. Actually no, I’ve got that last one completely wrong. It’s Coupé-Décalé.

This week’s selection includes flash cars, gorgeous clothes, the streets of Paris, a surprising dance, and lots of wobbly bottoms. It includes lively new young’uns and an international star from the 80s. It even includes a musician who’s performed in Australia. What’s more, I was at one of his concerts!

So let’s get started.

Christina Goh

This is for all my friends who don’t really get into the African dance music I’m forever posting. Christina Goh fuses the styles of all the countries she’s from: Côte d’Ivoire, Martinique and France. Love the lilting melody and her deep, smooth voice. And her dimples.

Alpha Blondy

Keeping you chilled. Surely this guy needs no introduction. This is who I’ve seen in concert.

From here on, it’s shake your booty.

Magic Système

Apparently these guys are really famous in Europe. It does sound a bit like I’ve heard it before. I think it may be a remix of something else, but can’t remember what. Or maybe it’s the original. Anyway. It’s zouglou style.

Want more Zouglou? Try this.

Debordo Likunfa

This video is aptly named ‘Celebration’. If someone who speaks French could tell me what he’s celebrating? Otherwise I’ll just assume it’s music, as he keeps changing styles. Or maybe flash cars. Love the beat(s), and his cheekiness.

I’m also fascinated by the jumpiness, the layering, the sudden switches. I want to know more about this music. But I’m discovering that it’s almost impossible to find any information about music from the smaller, especially Francophone African countries. Performers exist almost exclusively on video clips. Very little has been written about them, and in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, it’s all in French. In the case of Debordo, it’s also complicated by the multiple ways his name is spelled. Debordeaux, Leekunfa …. combine as you will.

With a bit of lateral thinking and thanks to Google Translate, I managed to find out that Debordo Likunfa is part of the second (or maybe third) wave of the uniquely Ivorian coupé-décalé. (Although he’s only mentioned in the French wikipedia entry on this style). Wikipedia (sorry, no other source available) defines Coupé-décalé as ‘a very percussive style featuring African samples, deep bass, and repetitive, minimalist arrangements‘. In English, the phrase apparently means ‘cut-shift’, and in Ivorian slang it means ‘cheat somebody and run away’. Ah. Now I understand. 

I think Celebration is my favourite clip for this week. Although my next pick is also a hot contender. Extremely danceable and lots of fun.

Meiway: A different kind of cheeky

Dedicated to anyone who’s ever thought ‘does my bum look big in this?’ Time to stop thinking that and appreciate what you’ve got. Rouler moutou essentially means — well at African gigs I’ve been to they say ‘shake your bum bum’. But you hardly need a translation to understand that this video is a celebration of bottoms.

When you’ve finished laughing at Meiway’s extravagant adulation of les derrières, and the ladies’ amused disdain, you might be interested to know that this man with the fabulous suits is not totally frivolous. He also sings — in vibrant zoblazo style — about ‘all the current ills making life difficult in [Africa]’.

Zoblazo appears to be Meiway’s own invention. Ingeniously, it draws on a number of musical traditions so that, in his own words: ‘wherever I go, people always think that what I play comes from the place I’m visiting‘.

DJ Lewis: Grippe Aviare

And finally — having worked in HIV for more than 20 years I can’t resist this foray into gallows humour. Also known as ‘black’ humour, laughing at death has helped many people get through some very hard times. Although arguably in very poor taste, Côte d’Ivoire’s very own bird flu dance could perhaps do the same.

Or perhaps not.


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