Showing posts with label Cameroun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cameroun. Show all posts

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cameroon Fever Vol. 1




Ken Abrams does it again with Cameroon Fever Vol. 1, a tasty collection of tracks from that country, mostly from the golden '80s, when Makossa, Makassy, Tchamassi and Bikutsi ruled.

A few notes about some of the artists here: Besides being a prolific artist in his own right, Isidore Tamwo in the '80s was the producer of Sam Fan Thomas, who achieved world fame with his smash "African Typic Collection," among others. Andre-Marie Tala popularized the Tchamassi rhythm and won a court case against James Brown for plagiarizing his hit "Hot Koki." Betuel Enola is better known as a backup singer for the likes of Manu Dibango and Lapiro de Mbanga, but she did make at least one solo recording, Propriete Privée, from which the song "Oa" is taken. The Golden Sounds, led by Jean Paul Zé Bella, are arguably one of the most influential African groups of all time, thanks to their 1986 smash "Zangalewa," better known as "Waka Waka," whose serpentine history is discussed by Uchenna Ikonne here.

Johnny Tezano acheived fame in the '80s with a synthesis of Camerounian and Congolese music that he called Ma-kwassa, while Ebanda Manfred is best known as the author of the song "Ami," made famous by Bebe Manga (and which you can download here). Jean Bikoko Aladin, who passed away last year, was one of the founders of modern Camerounian music, who popularized the Assiko style in the early '60s.

1. Emancipée Mariama - Isidore Tamwo
2. Celle Qui T'A Aime - Andre-Marie Tala
3. Oa - Betuel Enola
4. Maladie Difficile - Golden Sounds
5. Bobe Na Bongo - Cella Stella
6. S.O.S Mon Coeur - Marcel Tjahe
7. Balong - Maurice Njoume
8. Carreau Magique - Johnny Tezano
9. Baby Na Mamy Na - Ebanda Manfred
10. Humanisme African - Tonye Jackson
11. A Yiga Tchome - Jean Bikoko Aladin Et L'Assiko Rigueur
12. Pane Pane - Georges Seba
13. Mengabo Wo Dze - Alao Javis
Download Cameroon Fever Vol. 1 here. And explore Ken Abrams's artwork here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lapiro de Mbanga Freed!




By way of Makossa Original and Freemuse we receive the happy news that Camerounian musician Lapiro de Mbanga was freed April 8 after three years of harsh imprisonment.

Lapiro was arrested following riots in 2008 against the high cost of living and constitutional changes that made Cameroun's kleptocratic president Paul Biya eligible to run for re-election indefinitely. He ran unsuccessfully in local elections on the opposition Social Democratic Front slate in 2006 but the precipitating event for his arrest and sentence seems to have been his song "Constitution Constipeé," a critique of the Biya regime that became the unofficial anthem of the protests.

The past three years have seen an international campaign on behalf of Lapiro, which apparently fell on deaf ears. He served every day of his sentence.

Join me in celebrating the release of Lapiro De Mbanga with his wonderful album Ndinga Man (Energy Productions NE 5003), which was released in the late '80s:





Download Ndinga Man as a zipped file here, and enjoy this video, "Everybody to Kondengui Prison," about which Dibussi Tande says, ". . .In this fiery and no-holds-barred song released last year [2007], Lapiro lashes out against the symbols of decay in today's Cameroun: A regime in power which has turned its back on all the nationalist slogans of the early years; generalized corruption that has affected every stratum of society ; an insolent and arrogant ruling elite brazenly parading symbols of ostentatious consumption (vulgar SUVs out of place on Cameroon's roads, huge castles amidst appalling squalor, some shown in the video). . .":


Monday, February 14, 2011

African Divas Vol. 4




Once again I'm forced to apologize for the infrequency of my posts lately. As usual, I have several projects in the hopper, but all kinds of personal business has intervened to prevent me from finishing them.

Fortunately, what should come over the transom but a fine new compilation by our friend Ken Abrams, who was responsible for a couple of installments in the fondly remembered African Serenades series a few years back. Ken calls this collection of tracks by female artists "African Woman is Boss" (a play on a calypso, "Woman is Boss") but with his permission I'm rechristening it African Divas Vol. 4, since I've been wanting to put together another installment in that series for some time.

Mostly off the World Music™ radar, these chanteuses are testimony to the talent and artistry of Africa's female singers. Enjoy!

1. Deka - Ade Liz (Cote d'Ivoire)
2. Fide (Le Repos) - N. Lauretta (Cameroun)
3. Mumi We Njo - Cella Stella (Benin)
4. Je Caime Larsey - Lady Talata (Ghana)
5. Oa - Betuel Enola (Cameroun)
6. Time - Sissy Dipoko (Cameroun)
7. Shameributi - Oyana Efiem Pelagie & Soukous Stars (Gabon)
8. Komeka Te - Pembey Sheiro (Congo)
9. Mu Mengu - Itsiembu-y-Mbin (Cameroun)
10. Mbo Ya? - Lolo (Cameroun)
11. Gbaunkalay - Afro National (Sierra Leone)
12. Gnon Sanhon - Rose Ba (Togo)
13. Djombo - Hadja Soumano (Mali)
14. Kanyama - Amayenge (Zambia)
15. Mesa Ko Noviwo O - Okyeame Kwame Bediako & his Messengers (Ghana)
16. Mede Yta - Yta Jourias (Togo)
17. Play Play - Wulomei (Ghana)
Download African Divas Vol 4 here (and you can get Vol. 1 here, Vol. 2 here, and Vol. 3 here). Be advised also that in addition to his musical interests, Ken Abrams is a talented artist. Check out his work here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Return of Toguy




Here, as promised, is Elimbi na Ngomo (Production TN, TN 591), Toto Guillaume's 1985 LP that is rightly considered a monument of the makossa genre. I agree that it's a masterpiece, but pride of place as Guillaume's "best" recording belongs, in my humble opinion, to Makossa Digital
(Disques Esperance ESP 8404, 1983), which I posted here earlier. That said, there's little doubt that the title track, "Elimbi na Ngomo," is one of Toguy's most popular songs, remembered fondly by all Camerounians of a certain age.

Elimbi na Ngomo, makossa for the ages. Enjoy!

Toto Guillaume - Elimbi na Ngomo

Toto Guillaume - Bulu

Toto Guillaume - Raison

Toto Guillaume - Eh Oa

Toto Guillaume - Mulalo

Toto Guillaume - Ngila Nama

Download Elimbi na Ngomo as a zipped file here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mensy's "New Sounds"




For many years I've wanted to know the identity of the Camerounian group Mensy, whose
scorching tune "Ane Ya" opened up the 1982 compilation LP Sound d'Afrique II (Mango MLPS 9754).

I'm sorry to say that 28 years of research have turned up nothing about Mensy, but many moons ago I was thrilled to discover a whole LP by the group in a long-lost African record store in DC. New Sounds of Africa Vol. 1 (Discafrique DARL 021) contains not only a longer, uncut version of "Ane Ya" but three more slices of Afro-funk that make your typical deracinated World Music™ sound like nursery rhymes!

As the LP sleeve contains no recording information at all I wish I could tell you who the nimble guitarist on "Ane Ya" is or who's responsible for the brilliant horn work of "Sotuc." I'll just have to let you hear for yourself. Enjoy!

Mensy - Ane Ya

Mensy - Dis-Le Moi

Mensy - Mari Na

Mensy - Sotuc

Download New Sounds of Africa Vol. 1 as a zipped file here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Musicians' Musician




Back in the 80s Toto Guillaume ("Toguy") was a ubiquitous session musician on recordings coming out of Cameroun. The great guitarist and arranger first made a splash in the '70s alongside François Nkotti and Emile Kangue in the influential group Black Styl. His first solo hit "Françoise" was released in 1974, followed by "Mba Na We" in 1975. Together with the bassist and producer Aladji Touré, Manu Dibango, Emmanuel Nelle Eyoum and others, Guillaume played a pivotal role in crafting the modern makossa sound based on the traditional rhythms of the Douala region.

Among his albums, Toguy's 1985 release Elimbi na Ngomo (TN Productions TN 591) is justly famed, but I've always had a soft spot for 1983's Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404), with its
lush strings and brilliant arrangements. A true pinnacle of makossa!

Makossa began to fade in the late '80s, a victim of its own formulaic sound, but for a time it was Congo music's main rival for the affections of African music fans. Toto Guillaume too dropped out of sight around this time, but I understand he's been making a comeback in recent years.

Enjoy Makossa Digital, and I promise I will make Elimbi na Ngomo available also sometime in the future:

Toto Guillaume - Mundende Mwa Bedimo

Toto Guillaume - Mulema Mwa Muna

Toto Guillaume - Bata Ba Nunga

Toto Guillaume - Paï 'a Nyambe

Toto Guillaume - Ewes' Am

And, because Makossa Digital, like most Camerounian releases of the era, is much too short, here's a "bonus track" from 1983's wonderful 3-disc compilation Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003):

Toto Guillaume - Seto Nyola

Download Makossa Digital (+ "Seto Nyola") as a zipped file here.
A technical note: I haven't been posting many vinyl rips here lately because the stylus on my turntable was way past its expiration date, and I didn't want to harm my treasured old LPs. But listening to Makossa Digital and other rips I've made since getting a new stylus it's apparent how much sound quality I had been sacrificing with that old needle as well. I'd like to re-rip and re-upload much of the old material but that's obviously going to take a while. In the meantime I'd appreciate your input. When I processed Makossa Digital I tweaked the high frequencies upwards just a little bit as it seemed to add a fair bit of clarity to the sound. However, I'm aware that my hearing is not what it used to be, and what sounds fine to me may be hopelessly screechy to others. So, let me know. Input from people with a background in audio engineering is especially appreciated.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

African Divas Vol. 1




With the kids back in school and monopolizing the computer, and me swamped under a ton of overtime, I just haven't been able to give this blog the attention it deserves. As usual, I have several posts in progress, which I'm putting the finishing touches on, but I haven't wrapped things up yet.

Still, I want to put something up, so here goes:

You're probably familiar with Matt Temple's blog Matsuli Music. Last year, shortly before I started Likembe, I compiled an installment in his great "African Serenades" series. It was Volume 47 in two parts, subtitled African Divas 1 and African Divas 2, a selection of great female vocalists from across the continent.

I'm really proud of the work I did on this collection, but it was only online for a week or two on Matsuli Music. So I'm bringing it back into the light of day here. Here's the tracklist for Volume One:

1. E Beh Kiyah Kooney – Princess Fatu Gayflor (Liberia)
2. Haya – Khadja Nin (Burundi)
3. Ndare – Cécile Kayirebwa (Rwanda)
4. Du Balai – Angèle Assélé (Gabon)
5. Kalkidan – Hamelmal Abate (Ethiopia)
6. Ezi Gbo Dim - Nelly Uchendu (Nigeria)
7. Odo (Love) – Sunsum Band featuring Becky B (Ghana)
8. Dikom Lam La Moto – Charlotte Mbango (Cameroun)
9. Kuteleza Si Kwanguka – Lady Isa (Kenya)
10. Vis à Vis – Monique Seka (Côte d’Ivoire)
11. Femme Commerçante – M’pongo Love (Congo-Kinshasa)
12. Fe, Fe, Fe – Tina Dakoury (Côte d’Ivoire)
13. Koumba – Tshala Muana (Congo-Kinshasa)
14. Fote – Djanka Diabate (Guinea)
There are a few tracks you will recognize if you've been following Likembe for a while, but most may be new to you. In a departure from my usual practice, I'm posting this as a zipped file (108 MB) rather than as individual tracks, as it was meant to be listened to as a unit. An inlay card has been included as a Word file if you want to make your own CD. Volume 2 will follow shortly:

African Divas Vol. 1

African Divas Vol. 2




As promised, here is African Divas Vol. 2, originally posted last year as African Serenades Vol. 47b at Matsuli Music.

I apologize for the brevity of this post. Perhaps in the future when I have more time I will update it to include background information about these wonderful singers:

1. Abidjan Adja - Antoinette Konan (Côte d'Ivoire)
2. Barika Barika - Djeneba Seck (Mali)
3. Meta Meta - Martha Ashagari (Ethiopia)
4. Ami - Bebe Manga (Cameroun)
5. Ekwe - Onyeka Onwenu (Nigeria)
6. Medim Me Yom - Tity Edima (Cameroun)
7. La Paille et la Poutre - Nimon Toki Lala (Togo)
8. Mundeke - Afrigo Band featuring Rachael Magoola (Uganda)
9. Takko Wade - Kiné Lam (Senegal)
10. Keffa - Abonesh Adnew (Ethiopia)
11. Nyu Madin - Marthe Zambo (Cameroun)
12. Don't Let Me Go - Hindirah (Côte d'Ivoire)
13. Pare Chocs - Vonga Aye (Congo)
14. Dieleul-Dieuleul - Aby Ngana Diop (Senegal)
African Divas Vol. 2

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Classic Makossa




Back in the mid-1980s if there was one musical style that rivaled Congo music in the hearts of Africans, it was
makossa out of Cameroun. Given that Cameroun is a country of numerous ethnic groups, there is a constellation of musical styles there competing for attention: tchamassi, bikutsi, ashiko and mangambe among them. The music of Cameroun's largest city, Douala, makossa's international popularity can be attributed partly to one man, Manu Dibango. His record "Soul Makossa" (a song that is not even true makossa!) was a smash hit in 1972, but makossa the genre reached its apogee in the mid-1980s thanks to the hard work of another, producer/musician Aladji Touré, whose Touré Jim's Records launched numerous careers and revived many others.

In those days more often than not it was one of Touré's slick Paris productions that graced my turntable or tape deck, but I've always loved the less-sophisticated version of makossa that was popular in the late 1970s as well. About ten years ago some anonymous individual gathered together a number of these tracks in two CDs: Makossa: The Classics (A.C.F. Productions) and The Classics II (A.C.F. Productions AFC96). I present here six tunes from them. Much of the biographical information on the artists I gleaned from the liner notes of the 3-LP compilation
Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003, 1983).

Pierre de Moussy's fast-paced variation of makossa was a huge hit in the '80s although like many in the scene he's faded away in recent years:

Pierre de Moussy - Djomba Djomba


Jacky Doumbe likewise is a bit of a mystery to me, although also very popular:

Jacky Doumbé - Tonton a Meya


Jean Mandengue was a star of the early makossa scene who seems to have been eclipsed by the time of the mid-'80s boom. At least, I haven't been able to find out anything else about him:

Jean Mandengue - Muna Munyenge


François Missé Ngoh was born July 17, 1949 in the village of Mbonjo and was a major architect of the makossa sound as a member of the group Los Calvinos, where he replaced Nelle Eyoum. The liner notes of Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun state, "He was one of the first musicians to adopt the makossa rhythm and worked hard to escape from the three classic chords system which made makossa monotonous in the long term. He introduced other modulations."

Missé Ngoh - La Vie C'est Terrible

Eko Roosevelt was born Louis Roosevelt Eko on November 13, 1946 in Lobé-Kribi, Ocean Division, Cameroun.
Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun writes, "Eko is a great pianist, an excellent organist, an accomplished guitarist and a firts-class conductor and musical arranger. And if that were not enough, he also sings."

Eko Roosevelt - Me 2 I De Try My Own


The pre-eminent "musician's musician" of Cameroun, Toto Guillaume (b. August 25, 1955, Douala) is responsible for at least two certified classic LPs, Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404, 1983) and Elimbi na Ngomo (Production TN TN 591, 1985). Moreover, he is an extremely popular session musician and arranger, appearing on too many recordings to count:

Toto Guillaume - Isokoloko



Makossa seems to have declined in recent years, but still has its loyal following. For your information, there are some profiles of popular Camerounian musicians here. The painting at the top of this post is taken from the LP Africa Oumba No. 1 (Blue Silver 8260, 1987).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Le Demón de la Musique Africain




Once upon a time many thought that Ali Baba would be the next big thing in African music. With his flashy stage show and eclectic, cosmopolitan style it was thought that he could give King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti a run for their money. His premier disc Ali Baba '85 drew a lot of attention, and an appearance in London later that year seemed to herald bigger and better things.

In the end, though, not much came of it. King Sunny Ade lost his contract with Island Records and Fela stayed more of a cult figure, at least until his death in 1997.
The "African music boom" of the mid '80s turned out to be more of a "boomlet." And Ali Baba returned to his native Cameroun, where he continued to make music that was appreciated by many until his death on May 15, 2004.

Amadou Baba Ali was a a Hausa, a nationality of 30-35 million that is centered on Northern Nigeria and the Republic of Niger, but has members throughout West Africa. He was born in 1956 in Garoua, northern Cameroun. From 1980 to 1984 he achieved great fame and skill as a dancer with the National Ballet of Cameroun and in 1985 recorded Ali Baba '85 in Paris.

Frank Bessem's Musiques d'Afrique states that Ali Baba suffered a crippling stroke in 1993 that made it very difficult for him to get about, yet achieved a miraculous come-back later in the '90s. He founded a production company, Soul Gandjal, with the aim of promoting artists from northern Cameroun.

What I find interesting about Ali Baba is that for many years he was one of the few Hausa musicians performing in a modern, contemporary mode. In the recent period hip-hop and other styles have made their influence felt in Hausaland, but for many years Hausa music was performed almost totally in traditional styles utilizing instruments like the talking drum, goje, kontigi, and kakakai.
There were only a couple of Hausa highlife musicians and no Hausa equivalent of syncretic, modern Nigerian styles like juju or fuji.

Here's the music:

Around 1984 or so, Ali Baba contributed this tune to the deluxe 3-LP set produced by the Société Camerounaise du Droit d'Auteur (SOCADRA), Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003). Here he's backed up by the National Orchestra of Cameroun.
Fleurs Musicales, by the way, is an anthology that is just crying out for reissue. I'm planning to post more tracks from it in the future:

Ali Baba & l'Orchestre Nationale du Cameroun - Aourgo

From Ali Baba '85 (Kappa SAS 056), two tracks that perfectly exemplify Ali Baba's wondrously inventive style:

Ali Baba - Waioh

Ali Baba - Hadiza

Finally, from 1989's Condition Femenine (Editions Haïssam MH 14), Ali Baba's tribute to the great Nigerian Hausa praise singer Alhaji Mamman Shata. In the future I will post music by Mamman Shata and other Hausa musicians from Nigeria and Niger:

Ali Baba - Alhaji Mamman Shata