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African and Latin music
  • No thread on African music would be right without the force of nature that is Fela Kuti  

  • Why do African and Latin music go together? They're both kind of huge categories in their own rights... although there is plenty of overlap.

    Is it the polyrhythms?
  • I love this stuff:

  • From Cuba I give you Mr Tito Puente!
  • @grant, yes it's the rhythms. To my mind Latin beats developed from African ones (could be wrong). You're right about overlap though. Infact there seems to be a lot of cross over from soul and the New Orleans stuff too. I was gonna include jazz, but I think that probably needs a place of its own.

    @Grotto. Love it fella, first time I've heard of either.

  • Tinashe is a current African/English guy who seems to have a foot in top-40 pop and indie rock as well as sub-Saharan Africa:

    My favorite thumb piano song, though, is Thomas Mapfumo's "Hwa Hwa":

    Both of these songs are international, but with roots in Zimbabwe.

  • Beautiful instrument, reminds me of a miniature kora
  • My current favorite genre of music from Africa isn't polyrhythmic at
    all, though. It's 1950s pennywhistle jive, the skiffle of the mining
    towns, with a beat (sha-SHA-sh-SHA-sha-SHA-sh-SHA) as distinctive as
    ska's backbeat.

    This is kwela.

    The biggest name was probably Spokes Mashiyane:

    He actually had an international hit when he recorded a couple of tracks
    with jazz pianist Claude Williamson:

    But there were other big names, too... like "Little" Lemmy "Special"

    Lemmy recorded with some township stars who went on to great success,
    like Miriam Makeba:

    Some of Makeba's first recordings were with a vocal group called The
    Dark City Sisters. Although there's no pennywhistle, the beat is still

    Kwela, like a lot of South African music, came into being when a lot of cultural strains came together from different places - American jazz, Zulu harmonies, dance steps from Malawi...  and Malawi is where kwela seemed to have made itself most at home once the 60s ended.  This is one of the Kachamba Brothers:

    I suppose I learned about kwela from my father, although he never really taught me any of this stuff. He just had a few records. (He was a music promoter in Johannesburg before coming to university in the US.) Most of what I know about kwela's musical DNA I read on The Kwela Project, which is an impressively obsessive web archive.

    We're all waiting for the kwela revival, you see. It will come back.

  • Funny thing about the kora - it's such a polished, professional instrument, and it has this whole traditional association with ancient wisdom being handed down from father to son that Diabate talks about up there.

    Thumb pianos and pennywhistles are kind of the opposite. They're often improvised by whatever material is available (the difference between a kalimba and an mbira is that the one is tuned into a scale and the other is *sometimes* just strips of metal that make different noises from each other). And they were often played in music that was part of disrupted cultures and weird mixtures of traditions.
  • Good kwela introduction, grant, thanks - I knew little or nothing before now.

    Am still dubious about having Latin and African musics on the same thread, but...

    Another of Cuba's finest, the great Beny More (and his Banda Gigante). The 'Wildman (or Wizard) of Rhythm.' A bandleader in the Ellington mould, he was a wonderful singer as well. Toured Mexico, the USA, and all round the Caribbean. Residencies in Havana nightclubs - very popular in Cuba and the region in the 1950s. Died far too young at age 43 due to alcohol-related problems. 

  • I'd be willing to bet my wife's mother saw him. It was really popular to go to Cuba for the weekend in the 1950s in Miami. (Actually, that's an element in Guys & Dolls, if you've never seen it - the Havana weekend.)

    Cuba was known for three things: jazz, gambling and abortions. Nobody talked about the abortions, but that's where it was legal and safe. (My wife was, coincidentally, just talking about this last night.) It's hard for someone of my generation to imagine what it must've been like when Havana was essentially what Las Vegas is now.
  • Here's a Latin music history I stumbled on recently - the history of one song, Osvaldo Farres' "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas".  You've heard at least one version. (My favorite story from Wikipedia is when Farres visited Israel once, a cabbie sang his song to him in Hebrew. I mean, think about that. That's a powerful piece of music. That's a song with legs.)

    The oldest recordings go back to the end of the 1940s:

    In 1958, Nat King Cole made the Spanish version an American hit:

    Then, in the 1960s, Prince Buster (from the next island over from Cuba) sang one English-language ska version:

    While in the US, Doris Day (so wholesome!) made a closer English translation a huge hit on her Latin for Lovers album:

    It was that version that Cake was probably reappropriating in the mid-90s:

    (Ooo. Gnarly. Crunchy guitars.)

    And that version probably led to the Pussycat Dolls' snaky, smoky response about 10 years later:

    (Oh. Cocktail nation! Forever!)

    But they were overshadowed a bit by Ibrahim "I was there so I remember how it should really go" Ferrer's sweet, melancholy posthumous release (as a duet with Omara Portuondo):

    And, just for the heck of it, because it's on that list in the Wikipedia article, here's an Egyptian version from 2010. It's Latin! It's African! And, uh, Arabic:

    (Actually, this sounds a lot more like what you hear on Miami's Cuban stations nowadays than the versions in Spanish above.)

  • Posting links of Prince Buster doing versions of popular non-reggae songs with different lyrics could go to some very dark places, very quickly... 

  • But he's just trying to get the kids to straighten up and live right!
  • We could always open a separate thread for Latin if you prefer, fine by me.

  • Meanwhile, here's Tito getting Oscar the Grouch to dance.
  • Talking of Kwela revivals, this was around in the 80s. It's *almost* kwela

    Everton fans also use the tune to praise their Australian midfielder Tim Cahill. They basically just sing "Tim Cahill".
  • Wow - yeah, that does seem to be borrowing something from kwela, doesn't it?

  • I'll toss a few in, I guess. Maybe it's something new for someone.

    African-tinged Latin of Chico Science:

    African hip-hop of Ouga All Starz:

    I was always fond of Ugandan Goeffrey Oryema:

  • Here, just introduced me to some South African funk/dub/prog/something:

    That's BLK JKS


    A few weeks ago, reddit also introduced me to some South African darkwave/techno/proto-goth something:

    That's Spoek Mathambo, covering Joy Division.
  • And today, reddit explains Die Antwoord. Really worth checking out if you want to be in on the joke.

    Starting with the Ninja:
    and working up to The Constructus Corporation:

  • Latin rock
  • Eh. That's just Journey with some other guy singing. 

    This is Latin Rock: 

    There's actually a huge indie rock thing going on in Mexico right now, about which I know nearly nothing. 

    One of my favorite band names from that, though,  is "El Mato a un Policia Motorizado" (The Death of a Motorized Policeman). That link takes you to a page with an "Artists Like...." box on it, which might be worth checking out, if you feel like surfing around blip for a while. It's like Twitter with music. 

    They sound a little like this, though most of the other stuff online is from live performances: 


    grant said: Eh. That's just Journey with some other guy singing.
    Surely you mean became Journey, grant? Gregg Rolie says he left Santana because he couldn't play Carlos' new direction towards jazz.

  • Heheheh! Exactly. Weird crossover. I wonder if anyone's done a mashup with "Wheel in the Sky" and "Oye Como Va". 
  • By the way, @tsuga? That Chico Science looks like some kind of Mardi Gras thing. I guess it's Carnival - but it almost sounds like it' be at home in the New Orleans discussion. (Which is kind of cool.) Or maybe psychedelic soul (which is cooler). 
  • This link is apparently a collection of West African guitar music from the 20s. Not heard it myself, just found it elsewhere.
  • Nigerian disco-funk

    "Agboju Logun is a song about the proverbial prodigal child relying on his inheritance for survival. (from Nigerian This is an extraction from the Yoruba proverb 'Agboju logun fun ra re fun ya je' which means... the lazy child that intends to rely on his inheritance to survive will inevitably suffer in the end."

    KingSunny Ade dubwise! 

    "Ja funmi means 'fight for me' in the Yoruba language. The song is a plea to the creator - to fight for me so that i may move forward with success in life."


  • Congo trance


  • Konono makes my head spin, in a good way.
  • Grotto of Nolte said: This link is apparently a collection of West African guitar music from the 20s. Not heard it myself, just found it elsewhere.

    If people haven't already got around to this I strongly recommend you download this .rar archive. Fantastic stuff.
  • Clue is in the song title. This is HEAVY Sierra Leone funky

  • If the JBs came from Burkina Faso...

    ...they might sound something like this

  • This is what David Byrne got up to when Talking Heads split.


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