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African Popular MusicEdit

The term African Popular Music doesn't refer to any particular genre or sound, it's a commonly used generic term to describe all forms of modern music from Africa. Most of these genres incorporate western influences like Rock, Rhythm & Blues and Jazz into the basic sounds of African Folk Music.

Bongo FlavaEdit

Bongo Flava is a creation by Tanzanian youth beginning in the late 1990s. The genre takes roots in Hip Hop from the United States of America and fusing various other genres including Rhythm & Blues, Afrobeat, Dancehall, as well as some of the native Tanzanian music of Taarab and Dansi.


HighlifeEdit

Highlife originally began in Ghana as a blend of brass band music with the more danceable and less "official" rhythms of rumba and Calypso in the 1930s. Later the genre became more Jazz & Swing influenced and has often been somewhat incorrectly called a jazz subgenre. Highlife is very popular in Nigeria, Ghana and their neighbouring countries and also paved the way for the globally better known Afrobeat.

Notable artists: Sir Victor Uwaifo, Eddie Quansah, Otarus, Celestine Ukwu, The African Brothers, Gasper Lawal, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, The Anambra Beats.

Essential compilationsEdit

  • Rough Guide To Highlife This Rough Guide is jam-packed with some of the biggest hitters in highlife history. Enjoy Victor Uwaifo’s Nigerian joromi stylings, the gentle Ghanaian palm-wine of Koo Nimo, and even an early recording of Afrobeat superstar Fela Kuti presenting a firmly highlife vibe. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify

JùjúEdit

A style of Nigerian pop music derived from Yoruba music traditions and influenced by Western rock, funk and reggae. More percussive oriented, no horn section, much more psychedelic then Afrobeat.

Notable artists: King Sunny Adé, Ebenezer Obey, Tunde Nightingale.


SoukousEdit

A blend of Cuban rumba and other Latin American music with the folk music of the Congo area. Originally called just "African rumba", the name soukous is now used for the various rumba derivatives of Central Africa.


Southern AfricaEdit

Southern African popular music encompasses popular music genres from Southern African regions such as a cappella Mbube, jazz genres like Marabi, Mbaqanga, Kwela and Cape Jazz, local Electronic Dance Music styles Kwaito and Shangaan Electro, and other local popular genres. These popular music styles mainly consist of a combination of a worldwide popular genre like Jazz, Gospel, Rock or Electronic music, with the melody, the rhythm, the traditional instruments, etc. of a local, regional or ethnic Southern African traditional music, for examples Zulu, Sotho, Afrikaan or San (Bushmen) folk music leading to local specific style, playing and interpretation.


Bulawayo JazzEdit

Bulawayo jazz is a style of afro-jazz that emerged from the city of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in the early 1950s. The lead is assured by the alto sax in ensembles including tenor sax, trumpet, guitars, double bass, tubas and trombones.

Bulawayo jazz has been brought in the occidental world by Hugh Tracey, who recorded the material of Bulawayo Jazz: Southern Rhodesia, Zimbawbe 1950, '51, '52 in the early 1950s. Along with Gypsy Jazz, it's the sole jazz scene existing outside of the USA in the late-1940s/early-1950s.

A prominent Zimbabwean jazz player from the 1950s was August Msarurgwa. Msarurgwa was the leader of The African Dance Band of the Cold Storage Commission of Southern Rhodesia and composed the hit "Skokiaan". This may be the most well-known Bulawayo jazz song and has been covered by such artists as Louis Armstrong, The Four Lads, Alma Cogan, Bill Haley and His Comets and Herb Alpert, among many others.

The style is no longer leading the scene in Zimbabwe, replaced by modern popular genres like Kwaito. Nevertheless, some artists like The Cool Crooners are still playing Bulawayo jazz in clubs in Bulawayo and Harare.


Kwaito/Cape JazzEdit

Emerging from South Africa in the early 1990s, Kwaito is a music genre that takes influence from Disco, Hip Hop, and - most obviously - American and British House music. Its songs usually feature deep basslines, looped samples from more traditional styles of African music, and often sung or rapped vocals, which are usually male.


KwelaEdit

This sound from South Africa emerged from Marabi in the early 1950s. Kwela is rooted in Malawi and local South African traditional music such as Zulu music, and is influenced by Jazz as well. The four bar themes get repeated and mildly varied. The happy melodies of Kwela are mostly played by different flutes such as pennywhistle flutes and are often accompanied by banjo or guitar. Kwela became popular in Malawi as well and was prominent worldwide in the 1950s. The most significant artists are South African Lemmy "Special" Mabaso and Spokes Mashiyane, Malawian Donald Kachamba, as well as South African Elias & His Zig Zag Jive Flutes who performed in 1958 the internationally famous song Tom Hark.


MarabiEdit

Marabi is a Jazz and Southern African Popular Music style with origins in the 1920s. This genre came to existence in the ghettos and the shebeens of Johannesburg and is rooted in traditional South African music. The formerly simplistic organ and piano style (resembling Ragtime to a certain extent, and often accompanied by different percussion instruments and later on also played by reeds) was brought to a larger audience and taken to a higher artistic level by artists such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Dyani, Basil Coetzee, The African Jazz Pioneers, Miriam Makeba (early period) and others. This sound came to prominence as it was used as a form of protest against the exploitation of the people of South Africa. From a more Swing-based Marabi combined with Zulu and Xhosa cultures emerged Kwela and Mbaqanga. These made the international popularity of Marabi music genres increase respectively in the 1950s and the 1960s.


MbagangaEdit

Mbaqanga is a popular Zulu genre of South African music, that emerged from the traditional Marabi Jazz and Swing as well as Kwela popular South African genres. Mbaqanga is much more based on Big Band Swing. It appeared in the early 1960s from South African shebeens. Like Kwela, Mbaqanga has rural Zulu roots and continues to influence musicians worldwide today. The early prominent Mbaqanga artists were Makgona Tsohle Band, Mahlathini and Mahotella Queens, Sipho Mchunu accompanied by Johnny Clegg with Juluka band. Today this genre is less active although Mahotella Queens reduced to three members are still performing.


MbubeEdit

Mbube is a form of Southern African Popular Music, traditionally performed A cappella in a powerful and loud way.

Notable artists: Solomon Linda, Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

CompilationsEdit


Shangaan ElectroEdit

Shangaan electro is an Electronic Dance Music genre from South Africa with very fast BPM (around 180) and features MIDI keyboard sounds and marimba. The genre took form around 2005 with the productions of Richard "Nozinja" Mthethwa who wanted to make marimba-based Shangaan music but with a faster pace.

Notable artists: Penny Penny, Tshe-Tsha Boys, Mark Ernestus, Anthony Shake Shakir.

CompilationsEdit

West AfricaEdit

Essential CompilationsEdit

  • Living Is Hard: West African Music in Britain, 1927-1929 LIVING IS HARD… is the first in a series of compilations drawing on the exquisitely rare 78s housed in EMI’s Hayes Archives. While the archives represent a staggering diversity of music from all corners of the globe, for this outing, the producers at Honest Jon’s choose to focus on West African transplants residing in the British Isles during the height of the modern colonial era. Serving as a unique snapshot into the immigrant experience, the music represented is a window into the folk and community-based traditions of the African Diaspora--and a revealing look at the beginnings of modern-day genres such as high-life. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify


CalypsoEdit

Essential CompilationsEdit

  • Marvellous Boy - Calypso From West Africa The inter-war dance bands of British West Africa are often strikingly similar in sound to Trinidadian orchestras like Lovey's String Band (credited with the first calypso recordings, in 1912). However, the first West African calypso recordings in the modern style are from Freetown, Sierra Leone in the early 1950s, by Ebenezer Calendar and Famous Scrubbs. In arrangements blending African and European instruments, the brass plays out the legacy of colonial military bands, albeit hair-down and a little ramshackle now; and the beautiful creole lyrics are as upful, quick, current, musical and intimate as any classic calypsonian's. Listen on: Deezer | Rdio | Spotify

Music blogs with downloadsEdit

Southern AfricaEdit

  • Afro Synth South African bubblegum/disco vibes from the 80s & early 90s
  • Electric Jive We focus on out of print South African, and other African music that is very difficult to find.

west africaEdit

  • Highlife Haven A site dedicated to Nigerian and Ghanaian Highlife music
  • Sahel Sounds exploration of sound and music in west africa, particularly in the sahel region of mauritania, senegal, mali, and niger.

Northern AfricaEdit

SourcesEdit

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