Friday, January 18, 2019

Sparkling Soukous

I love this album cover! I love the music on the album!

The group "Le Peuple" had its origins in a split from the legendary Bantous de la Capitale, the foremost musical congregation on the Brazzaville side of the Congo River. Fronted at first by the vocalists Célestin Kouka, Pamelo Mounk'a, and Kosmos Moutouari (or "Trio Ce.Pa.Kos."), the group, led by Célestin Kouka, soldiered on after Pamelo and Kosmos departed for solo careers. Le Peuple disbanded in 1985. This album, Bimbeni (Production Le Vaudou VAU 008), is from the post-Ce.Pa.Kos. period, sometime in the early '80s. Enjoy!

Download Bimbeni as a zipped file here.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Eclectic Diva

Elizabeth Finant, better known as Abeti Masikini, or just "Abeti," was a pioneer of the Congolese music scene - one of the first female singers there to really make an impact. She was born on November 9, 1954, in present-day Kisangani to a civil servant who, as a supporter of first Congolese President Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961 during the unrest that followed Independence.

While Abeti sang in the Catholic Church as a child, and performed in clubs and competitions, her career received a jump-start in 1971 when she made the acquaintance of the Togolese producer Gérard Akueson. He became her life-companion and father of her children and produced all of her records. Her first release, 1973's Pierre Cardin Présente Abeti (Disques Pierre Cardin PC 93.501) was in the "contemporary" style popularized by singers like Miriam Makeba and Togo's Bella Bellow. Which is maybe not surprisng given that Akueson was also Bellow's producer.

A steady stream of releases followed, which placed Abeti at the pinnacle of the Kinshasa music scene, rivalled only by M'Pongo Love and M'Bilia Bel for the title of Congo's top female vocalist. Over the years she showed an eclectic willingness to wander outside the standard Congolese rumba/soukous paradigm, drawing on influences far and wide to forge her unique sound. An excellent example is the late-'80s recording Je Suis Faché (Bade Stars Music AM 033), which draws on techno and the zouk style out of the French Caribbean, which was then sweeping Africa and the world. This was probably her biggest hit ever and I'm happy to present it here by request.

Abeti died of cancer in France on September 28, 1994.

Abeti - Je Suis Faché

Abeti - Lolo

Abeti - Viens Mon Amour

Abeti - Piege Ya Bolingo

Download Je Suis Faché as a zipped file here.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Couple More Rochereaus

As promised in an earlier post, here are Volumes 5 and 6 of the series Rochereau Vols. 1-8, released by Disco Stock in Abidjan in 1982. The first four, Rochereau à Abidjan, did not get a lot of circulation outside of West Africa, but the last four were licensed by the African Record Centre in Brooklyn.

Congo's great Tabu Ley, nicknamed "Rochereau," is showcased to great effect in these wonderful albums. The no-frills production brings the voices to the fore while leaving plenty of room for the (uncredited!) backup musicians to display their chops. And some of the most-loved songs in Tabu Ley's repertoire - "On a Raconte," "Mazé" and "Sorozo" - are included.

On listening to these recordings, it struck me that the rhythm guitar ostinato on "On a Raconté," probably recorded in '81 or ''82, sounded awfully familiar. Compare it to 1985's "Haleluya" by Orchestra Simba Wanyika from Tanzania/Kenya. Was the later recording inspired by the first? Or is this a case of parallel evolution? The rhythm guitarist on "Haleluya" is probably George Peter Kinyonga, but who plays on "On a Raconté?" The liner notes give us no clue. Can someone out there enlighten us?

First up, here is Rochereau Vol. 5: Jalousie Mal Placée (Star Musique SMP 6005):

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - Jalousie Mal Placée

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - On a Raconté

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - Mela

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - Maika

Go here to download Jalousie Mal Placée as a zipped file.

And here is Rochereau Vol. 6: Mazé (Star Musique SMP 6006):

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - Mazé

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - M. Malonga

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - N'Gawali

Tabu Ley Rochereau & l'Afrisa International - Sorozo

Download Mazé as a zipped file here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Bonne Année!

Happy New Year! Bonne Année! And here with us to celebrate the new year are Lokassa Ya M'Bongo, Sam Mangwana and the African All Stars with an LP appropriately entitled Bonne Année (Star Musique SMP 6039, 1983).

This album was recorded in Abidjan where the African All Stars were at the peak of their powers, creating a new iteration of Congolese rumba that would soon sweep the continent. All the gang is here - Lokassa on rhythm guitar, Dizzy Mandjeku on lead, Ringo Moya on percussion, ably fronted by the great Sam Mangwana on lead vocals, with Nayanka Bell and Chantal Taiba on backup.

Unfortunately, like a lot of these African Record Centre productions, the sound quality is not exactly ideal. I got it factory-sealed many years ago, but I suspect it was produced from a second- or third-generation master tape. I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. Bonne Année!

Lokassa Ya M'Bongo - Issa

Lokassa Ya M'Bongo - Dodo

Lokassa Ya M'Bongo - Bonne Année 

Download Bonne Anné as a zipped file here.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Village Interlude

This is a quick and brief post, in response to a request.

A while back I put up a post devoted to traditional Igbo village music from Nigeria, a genre sometimes called "Igbo Blues." I included a track from the 1991 cassette Chukwunna Njieme Onu (EMI Nigeria NEMI 0692) by the Ifediora Mma Egedege Cultural Dance Group of Uga, Anambra State, led by Queen Ann Ezeh. A reader asked that I post the whole cassette, and I'm happy to oblige!

This is the genuine article, real traditional Igbo women's music as it is performed in villages throughout Ala Igbo. As I wrote back then:

....Here the full panoply of Igbo traditional instruments is displayed to great effect. The amiri (reed flute) leads off, to be joined in succession by the ekwe (wooden slit drum), ogene (two-headed bell) and oyo (rattle). The title, "Chukwunna Njieme Onu," means "My God that I Brag About." Lead singer Ann Ezeh addresses God in a very personal way: "God, please bless us, God that we rejoice in, God give us your grace, God that is all-good, God in heaven ('Olisa din'igwe') make our way easier."...
Moreover this is the sort of music one would hear this time of year. Around Christmastime Igbos from throughout Nigeria return to their home villages to spend time with family and celebrate the holy days. Musical troupes travel from household to household to perform for money.

I don't have time to discuss the lyrics and music in more detail, but I hope you will enjoy this brief village interlude!

Ifediora Mma Egedege Cultural Dance Group Uga - Ka Odilianyi Mma

Download Chukwunna Njieme Onu as a zipped file here.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Spectacular Sounds From the Delta

About 20 years ago my wife Priscilla brought back from Nigeria about 40 albums of Ijaw (Izon)-language highlife music, or Awigiri, from the Niger Delta that she'd gotten at a used record store in Lagos.

Of course, I knew Igbo-language highlife from eastern Nigeria, but this was totally unfamiliar to me. I'll admit that I didn't warm to it immediately. I devoted a Likembe post to this music ten years ago, but apart from a few cursory listens these records have mostly sat on my shelf since I got them. 

Recently, though, I decided that I would sit down and sytematically digitize every single Ijaw record that I have. For the past few weeks I've been immersing myself in Awigiri, and it's a revelation! I've realized that I wasn't giving this stuff a fair hearing. I had been listening to it in reference to other styles I was more familiar with, but Awigiri must be accepted on its own terms!

Musically Awigiri has more in common with the minor-key sounds of Ghana highlife than other Nigerian styles. It certainly lacks the immediate punch of the music of Nigerian highlife legends Warrior or the Ikenga Super Stars, or the sophisticated arrangements of Chief Stephen Osadebe. It's a guitar and percussion-based music that comes at you in a more subtle, roundabout way, but delivers big time. 

Take today's musical selection, Edogbo Special Vol. 2, by Anthony Cockson and his Oyadongha Dance Band (Cockson Records CRLP 005, 1986). That previous Likembe post featured an outstanding tune by them, "Late Brother Iddo," from  Edogbo Special Vol. 1 (Cockson Records CRLP 001, 1984). The title tracks of both albums are tributes to Mr. Cockson's late mother Madam Edogbo Perefa. Here the band is firing on all cylinders; the guitar work in particular is spectacular. The musicians on Vol. 2 aren't credited, but I would assume they are the same as on Vol. 1. These are Mr. Cockson on vocals, Sayerigha on lead guitar, Paa Pee on bass and Free on rhythm guitar, Dare Saturday on drums, Ogbo-Akedei Zitare on clips, A. Lucky on maraccas and P. Timi-Ebe on congas.

Ubulujaja over at the Highlife Turntable blog is also into Ijaw highlife and posts it often. He's been in touch with the son of Bestman Doupere, another well-known musician from the Delta, who relates that Mr. Cockson, Mr. Doupere and another musician named King Ebizimor were all from Sagbama in present-day Bayelsa State and played together before they all embarked on solo careers. I plan to post music by these musicians and others from the area in the future.

Download Edogbo Special Vol. 2 as a zipped file here.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Epic Efik Highlife

Some time ago I devoted a post to music from the Efik and Ibibio peoples of southeastern Nigeria. For some reasoin I overlooked today's featured group, the Isadico Dance Band Nigeria, led by Isaiah Dickson. Why I would have neglected them, I don't know. Their album, Eti Eyeneka (EMI Nigeria NEMI 0413), which came out in the seventies I believe, is about as fine an example of classic Nigerian danceband highlife as you'll find.

For some reason not a lot of music from this corner of Nigeria has made it to the outside world, although I suspect it has a thriving music scene. Calabar, the capital of Cross River State and center of the Efik people, is a historically important and cosmopolitan city, a center of the slave trade in the olden days and later a transfer point for palm oil. It's notable for its cuisine and colonial-era architecture and has been called "the tourism capital of Nigeria."

Our friend Uchenna Ikonne grew up in Calabar and wrote often in his blog Comb and Razor about its music. In 2016 he compiled an excellent collection of Calabar music, Calabar-Itu Road: Groovy Sounds from South Eastern Nigeria (1972-1982(Comb & Razor CRZR 1004), which I highly recommend. Music by Calabar's favorite son, Inyang Henshaw, is also available for download and streaming from Amazon. But that's about all the Efik music available that I'm aware of.

I can't tell you anything about Isaiah Dickson and Isadico, but Uchenna says they got quite a bit of airplay back in the day. Enjoy this epic Efik highlife!

Isadico Dance Band Nigeria - Eti Eyeneka / Echi Di

Isadico Dance Band Nigeria - Eka Ette

Isadico Dance Band Nigeria - Nam Uruak Fo Obong

Download Eti Eyeneka as a zipped file here. It's apparent listening to this record that it was well-loved in its day and is a bit worse for wear. I apologize for the clicks and scratches and occasional skip.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Oliver Mutukudzi's Sugar Pie

I posted the album Nzara by Zimbabwe's Oliver Mutukudzi a while back, and as promised here is another one by the great master, 1988's Sugar Pie (CSA Records CSLP 5001). There's not much I can say about this one, just that it's great stuff! For more about Oliver, here's an extract from Fred Zindi's very informative Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe (Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe 1985):

Equally important in the runnings of Zimbabwean music is a slim package of energy with a formidable and husky but sweet voice called Oliver Mtukudzi. Although Oliver is generally regarded as a traditional musician, it is somehow difficult to classify his music. Apart from a few tunes which are sung in English or Ndebele, most of his music has Shona traditional lyrics. The traditional aspect of his music therefore comes from the words he uses for his songs even though the supporting rhythms to these songs are similar to the simanje-manje or mbaqanga beat common in South Africa. There are very few similarities between his beat and the one Thomas Mapfumo is identified with, yet Oliver admits that he has been greatly inspired by Thomas Mapfumo.

Oliver is unique in this respect because he has developed a style no other well-known Zimbabwean groups have and when performing live on stage his 'cough' gimmick (where he punctuates every line of his lyrics with a cough) has become a trade mark unique to Oliver. This sends his fans wild.

Oliver has had a lot of successful hit songs during his career which spans from around the late seventies until now and this is how it all began in Oliver's own words:

"I was born in 1952 and I am the first born in a family of six. I have three brothers and two sisters.

"I went to Chipembere Primary School at the age Of 7 and later went to Highfield Secondary. I left school at the age of 19 in 1971. By then I had already begun to get involved with music seriously. Despite the fact that I decided to become a professional musician in later years, I believe that I was born a musician.

"Before I was ten years of age, I was involved in both the school choir and church choir, singing mainly church songs. At the age Of 16, I already felt that I was an accomplished singer and that year, in 1968, I penned my first song. After had written this song, I asked some of my friends to join in so that we could get a group together. None of my friends were interested, and I said to myself: One of these days when I make this a hit, you guys are going to like it. I'm sorry, I can't remember the title of this song as it was my first tune. Besides I never thought that I would eventually compose many more tunes which would be successful. All I remember about that tune is that it had what we called a jiti or tsabatsaba beat which are the traditional beat sounds of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

"A lot of people have suggested that my music has South African links but I describe my music as traditional based invariably on the local sound which began in Zimbabwe before I was born.

"There are several versions of this traditional beat as you well know, depending on the region. There is Mbakumba, Nhxuzu, Katekwe, and Jerusalema, all of which stem from different parts of the country. These are the rhythms I have listened to and somewhere along those lines, lies my own beat. I have tried to combine all these various beats which are the true, free expressions of Zimbabweans from each region where that kind of music is sung and danced to in order to make a national rhythm.

"When I left school in 1971, I started to look for a job. This was one of the most difficult experiences I ever faced, but I eventually found a job as a stationery salesman with a Harare Company. After a year I got fed up with the job because it did not have any prospects at all. Worse still, I hated the job. What I really wanted to do deep down in my heart was to play music, but I was scared of my parents' reaction to this because musicians were and still are classified as beggars, rascals and lawless people in Zimbabwe. I hated the thought of my parents classifying me as one of those people even though really wanted to become a musician.
After I quit the job as a stationery man, I was a 'machayanyoka' (a layabout or an unemployed person) for the next three years. I was still looking for an alternative job but all in vain. After three years of hard-nosed looking, I eventually got my second job as an insurance broker where I was paid on commission basis. This job proved to be very unsatisfactory as I could not make or save any money. Within a period of six months, I had again left this job to seek greener pastures.

"Using my meagre savings I bought my first box guitar. This caused a lot of conflict between me and my parents who did not like to hear the noise I was making with my guitar when, according to them. I should have been out looking for a job. This prejudice was enhanced by the fact that they believed that I was now going to become a dirty, lazy and never-want-to-work layabout who would go around the townships with this guitar in order to earn the odd penny.

"They tried each and every morning to knock some sense into me, but I stood firm. My mother used to cry, "Do you realise that you will never get married if you become a guitar player?" They never thought that we musicians can lead a happy normal life with a bright future.

"At one point, I felt like moving out when this conflict continued but being the first born, I felt that the responsibility to look after my parents rested with me. Besides, I did not have enough money to set up home on my own. However, despite these feelings, I didn't blame my parents for speaking out against my music career for I knew that it was the concern they had about me and my future and the love for me as their son which led them to be so antagonistic. They failed to understand who was going to pay me as a musician. So I struggled hard to make certain that I proved them wrong by showing them that music was just as good a career as any other — with a bright future.

"It was in music that I really felt my career would be found. After trying out two jobs and looking for more in vain, I knew that there was nothing else out there for me except music.

"I later met a friend, Moses Kabubi, who was already an accomplished musician and played with well-known bands such as the Sounds Effects at the time. He is the one who finally showed me how to polish up my guitar playing. After this, I became a proficient guitar player and decided to try my luck in song writing again.

"In 1976, a lot of local musicians were now cutting records with Teal Record Company and with Gallo. I approached Crispen Matema, who was the producer then, to discuss the possibility of recording some of my material. On agreement, I recorded a single called 'Pezuma' with just guitar backing and my sister Bybit singing on it. The single was one huge flop but I was not discouraged by it. From this flop, I learned what was needed to make a hit. I found out how shallow my song writing skills were. I also discovered that I needed more musicians or more instruments to give my music a more commercial basis.

"As a result I joined The Wagon Wheels Band in the same year and concentrated on making better compositions. My theories were proved correct because we then went back to the studios and recorded 'Dzandimomotera' but this time with Gallo Records. This tune became an instant hit and I believe it still is to this day. I must admit that some of my inspiration to write such songs came from Thomas Mapfumo who was already known as the guru of traditional music at the time. As a matter of fact, we shared the stage one day and even though our singing on the same bill was brief, I learnt a lot. He inspired me to do my own thing and to this day I have a lot of respect for the man and his talent. With The Wagon Wheels both Thomas and I toured Kadoma and it was there that he actually gave me this inspiration.

"1 later left the Wagon Wheels and formed my own band. We recorded songs like 'Dzandimomotera' and 'Mutavara' before the band split up. These two songs were major hits countrywide and it was unfortunate that at this exciting stage of my career misunderstandings began to arise. You see, the management which owned the equipment we were using became jealous due to our increasing success. We were forced to break our contract and decided to go our own way, just as Thomas had done in the past.

"After the split, the new line-up was made of Robert, my brother, on keyboards, Bybit, my sister on vocals, James Austin on drums, Joseph Alphonso on bass, Batholomew Chirunda on lead guitar, Felix John on rhythm guitar and three girl dancers, Tsitsi Muchaneta, Eva Mbera and Winnie. We called ourselves The Black Spirits.

"Even though we had made successful hits, we had still not reached a full musical direction. On stage, we still concentrated on foreign music particularly Zaire's rhumba. I suppose we were attracted to their style because musicians from Zaire (then known as Congo) had better recording facilities than those which existed in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).

"But as I wrote more and more songs, we found ourselves increasingly playing more and more of our own material on stage. My first album was released in 1978 and this was called 'Ndipeiwo Zano'. It did very well. With so much success in the music world, my parents began to view things differently now.

"When my first royalties came, I took the money home to them and showed them how I was going to make my living. From that day onwards, I have had their full support. They have not looked back either.

"My greatest moment came towards the end of 1979 when the curfew, imposed because of the war situation in Zimbabwe, was lifted. I took advantage of this and put my band on the road. For the first time, the whole country was able to see our live act and of course this increased record sales. We had not toured before for fear of harassment by security forces.

"My future plans include touring countries in East Africa and West Africa as I would like to convince the rest of Africa that Zimbabwe, although a small country, has a vast resource of talented and top musicians who can stand out on their own and beat the rest of Africa. After this, it will be Europe and perhaps America and I would like to do all this before I am 40, otherwise I will never make

Oliver has toured most of the neighbouring countries including Zambia, Botswana and Malawi where his music has been greatly appreciated. Between 1978 and 1985, he released ten albums which are: 'Ndipeiwo Zano', 'Afrika', 'Ndapota', 'Chokwadi Chichabuda', 'Muroyi Ndiani?', 'Shanje', 'Maungira', 'Greatest Hits', 'Nzara' and 'Hwema Handirase'.

Almost all of his recordings carry the same social themes: starvation, poverty and suffering. These melancholic and sorrowful messages have managed to successfully touch the emotions of the people who buy his records to the extent that they now regard Oliver as their source Of inspiration. In the L.P. 'Nzara' (which means starvation), he concentrates on themes such as drought, baby-dumping, and the evils of society.

Oliver has recently become well versed in controlling his own fate by becoming a business manager of his own affairs even though he still works with music promoter, Jack Sadza. He has had his ups and downs in business. For instance, when he was contracted to a Highfield night club, he found that he could not make any extra money in spite of a lot of offers that were put forward to him because the management would not agree to this. When he eventually left that night club, he made more money through live performances than he ever realised he would.

Lately, Oliver has begun to write Ndebele songs which he originally writes in Shona, then gets someone else to do the translation. His attempts at writing English songs seemed not to have had a wide approval from his fans. For instance, the song 'Ghetto Boy' which he recorded in 1982 and gave it a reggae beat was not applauded by most of his fans and critics seemed to tear this new idea apart.

Between 1982 and 1983, Oliver left his band, The Black Spirits after some misunderstandings and joined the Ocean City Band. This was a major set-back for him because this new band could not play his beat the way he had wanted them to and they were taking a long time to build up. Defeated, he went back to the Black Spirits to find that some of the members had left to join other groups. By January, 1985 the line up of the Black Spirits stood as follows: Max Chiwara (who succeeded Bartholomew Chirunda) on lead guitar, Robert Mtukudzi on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Joseph Alphonso on bass, Julius Manduma on vocals and percussion, Innocent Makoni, vocals, James Austin on drums, Nicholas Kunaka on vocals (doubling up on bass) and Felix John on rhythm. Oliver is a very subdued person who only speaks when spoken to yet when one sees him in action On stage, they are likely to get the impression that he is an extrovert. He is a very serious-minded person with a lot of self discipline. He is very modest about his capabilities, but there is no doubt that he has made his mark in the history books of Zimbabwe's most talented musicians. 
Enjoy Sugar Pie!

Oliver Mutukudzi - Rongai Mhuri

Oliver Mutukudzi - Tenda Ishe

Oliver Mutukudzi - Sugar Pie

Oliver Mutukudzi - Nhaka

Oliver Mutukudzi - Chipembebene

Oliver Mutukudzi - Sons of Africa

Oliver Mutukudzi - Unenge Paneni

Oliver Mutukudzi - Paida Moyo

Download Sugar Pie as a zipped file here.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Awesome Awigiri

A while back I did a post devoted to awigiri, the highlife music of the Ijaw (Izon) people of the Niger Delta. I have quite a few LPs of this particular genre, and I've been digitizing them in preparation for a future post, or series of posts. In the process this particular album, Late Chief Ohbobo Special (Success SSLP 027) really caught my attention and I thought it was worth posting in full.

I know absolutely nothing about the Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria or its leader, Jay Eboge - "Monkey No Fine." I assume the group takes its name from Isaac Adaka Boro, who led a twelve-day armed uprising against the Nigerian and Eastern Nigerian governements in 1966. He was subsequently jailed, then amnestied on the eve of the Biafran war of independence in 1967. He died fighting for the Nigerian Federal Government in 1968 under what are described as "mysterious" circumstances and is a hero to Niger Delta indegenes.

I particularly enjoy the saxophone work on this album by a musician credited only as "Boma." I hope you'll enjoy it also.

Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria - Late Chief Ohbobo Special

Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria - Late Commodor Kentebe

Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria - Izon Otu Meinye Ana

Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria - Late Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson

Boroism International Dance Band of Nigeria - Asima Popo

Download Late Chief Ohbobo Special as a zipped file here.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Deep Awurebe!

Wow, check out the tribal marks on these guys! The cover of Iya Alakara (Awurebe Records DELP 8303, 1983) is arresting, the music on the inside even more so.

Alhaji Dauda Epo Akara called his music awurebe. I'm not exactly sure where it stands in relation to other percussion-fueled Yoruba musical styles like fújì, àpàlà and the like. Maybe it's just a marketing gimmick. Whatever the provenance, it's very impressive music!

According to his sparse Wikipedia entry, Dauda Epo Akara was born on June 23, 1943. The Nigerian newspaper This Day reported that he passed February 18, 2005. Wikipedia says that he started out as a practitioner of wéré (or ajisáàri), an Islamic style of music meant to be played during Ramadan, and updated it after returning from his hajj to Mecca and Medina. At least judging by this recording awurebe lacks the religious focus of wéré , but shares the characteristic vocal flourishes of "secular" Islamic styles like fújì and the like.

The respected Nigerian music journalist Benson Idonije wrote in 2008:

Three years have passed slowly by since Awurebe King Dauda Kolawole Akanmu, known in show business as Dauda Epo Akara passed on, in 2005. His exit marked the end of a musi-cultural era, the era of a generation of musicians whose roots are deep in the urban social fabric and heritage of the Yoruba speaking people of South Western Nigeria.

An indigenous music type whose hallmark is the syncopation of rhythms generated in patterns that are intricate, Awurebe is the fusion of àpàlà, sákárà, woro and even dadakuada from Kogi and Kwara States of Nigeria. It is the perfect blend of these various musical cultures that have given it a uniquely definitive sound identity.

While Haruna Isola and Ajao Oru pioneered àpàlà and took it to a level where it became universally accepted, Yusuf Olatunji popularised sákárà and established it as an acceptable social music type. And of course the likes of Batile Alake took on the female version of these music forms and handed it down to the likes of Salawa Abeni who is still carrying on the tradition.

Even though Epo Akara's awurebe came much after the first generation of our traditional musicians, his fusion was blended to fall into the same era. As a matter of fact, like fújì music, awurebe is a product of the street music performed during Ramadan called wérè. He was influenced in the same way that Alhaji Ayinde Barrister was, but this influence affected them differently.

While Barrister merely accompanied his social commentaries with the legion of drums and other percussion instruments in a direct fusion, Dauda, who, perhaps was operating from a point where he had been influenced by almost all the social music genres, decided to fuse elements of everything into one whole unit.

The music did not assume the commercial viability that fújì had because of its direct identification with the roots of our traditional forms. For instance, Epo Akara's awurebe did not have widespread acceptance in Lagos until the 1980s, even though it was popular in places like Mushin and Somolu, with danfo drivers and meat sellers as the bulk of its devotees. The music came into the forefront with the emergence of the Top 10, instituted in the early 1980s by Radio Nigeria 2....
Enjoy this deep, deep Yoruba roots music!

Alhaji Dauda Epo Akara & his Awurebe Experts - Won Ti Fepo Lade / Ota Awori Nile Won / Yusuf Oladejo / Epo Ni Roju Obe

Alhaji Dauda Epo Akara & his Awurebe Experts - Tiri-Misi- Riyu / Egbe Ifelodun (Abajan) / E Fowo Mi Wo Mi / Iya Alakara

Download Iya Alakara as a zipped file here. In preparation for this post, I did a little research on the question of  "tribal marks" in Nigeria and discovered that they are, or used to be, most common among the Yoruba people, although other groups have them also. I take it they are considered somewhat old-fashioned these days, as indicated by the delightful video below. I think they're kind of awesome myself!