Saturday, August 9, 2008

One Year of Likembe

Today marks one year since Likembe first went online on August 9, 2007. One thing I've discovered in a year of blogging is that it's a lot harder than it looks! It's been a lot of fun, nonetheless. I've made a lot of new friends and rekindled some old friendships and gotten out a lot of great music. My biggest regret is that I just haven't had time to digitize more stuff and put it online.

Here's a snapshot of daily visitors from August 14, 2007, when I started receiving Google Analytics, and July 30 of this year:

As you can see, the site started out with less that 50 unique visitors daily. Today it averages around 150, with a few spikes for posts that seem to have gotten a lot of attention. Here is a list of the top 20 posts, as measured by unique visits, as of August 1:

1. Somali Mystery Funk (1000 unique visits)
2. Tanzania Hit Parade '88 (999)
3. The Elusive "Igbo Blues" (895)
4. By Request: Mbaraka Mwinshehe (811)
5. Ethiopian Honey (805)
6. More Somali Funk: Sahra Dawo & Durdur (777)
7. Dakar Divas Pt. 1: Kiné Lam (720)
8. Ikenga Super Stars: Kickin' Ikwokilikwo! (709)
9. Mali Cassette Grab Bag: Djeneba Seck, Tata Bambo Kouyate, Naïny Diabate, Yayi Kanoute, Djamy Kouyate (679)
10. Nigeria's Golden Voice (678)
11. East African Memories (625)
12. Dakar Divas Pt. 5: Viviane N'dour (618)
13. Oliver de Coque is Dead (618)
14. A Long-Lost Highlife Classic (613)
15. More Ethiopian Honey (607)
16. Sikinde Ngoma Ya Ukae! (594)
17. Dakar Divas Pt. 3: Aby Ngana Diop (592)
18. Some Recent Tunes From Ghana (577)
19. More Mbaraka (567)
20. Kabaka: Mangala Special (561)
While it's no surprise that Somali Mystery Funk made Number One (if barely), the inclusion of Mali Cassette Grab Bag: Djeneba Seck, Tata Bambo Kouyate, Naïny Diabate, Yayi Kanoute, Djamy Kouyate on the list is a revelation, as it generated zero comments when I first posted it! There must be a lot more fans of Sahelian female vocalists than I'd realized! Keep in mind that by its nature this list favors older posts, otherwise I'm sure Memories of Oliver de Coque would have made the cut (it's number one in the rankings for July 2008).

As to where you are, here's a map:

The list of the top twenty countries in terms of visitors is as follows:

1. United States (17,985 visits)
2. United Kingdom (6703)
3. France (4296)
4. Germany (3363)
5. Netherlands (2434)
6. Canada (2255)
7. Colombia (1942)
8. Sweden (1478)
9. Belgium (877)
10. Spain (866)
11. Italy (800)
12. Australia (722)
13. Japan (694)
14. Kenya (568)
15. Switzerland (557)
16. Greece (509)
17. South Africa (460)
18. Brazil (436)
19. Argentina (391)
20. Russia (370)
No big bombshells here. A lot of people would be surprised that Colombia made number 7, but I'm not (a lot of major African music fanatics down that way!) Every country in Africa is represented, save Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic and Western Sahara. A surprise for me has been the number of visits from Somalia (71), given the state of unease in that country. From the very beginning there has been a small but steady stream of visitors from the Middle East, notably the Persian Gulf countries. Starting in October, when "Likembe" was linked on a Russian-language blog, there has been regular traffic from the former Soviet Union. Mainland China has just started to log in as of July (26 visits so far).

Mad props to those blogs who inspired me to get this thing going: Benn Loxo du Taccu, Matsuli Music, With Comb and Razor, Aduna, Steve Ntwiga Mugiri and Voodoo Funk, and a big shout-out to the sites that have debuted in the last year: Africolombia, Afrocaribe, African Music Treasures and Orogod (hope I didn't leave anyone out!).

Now, if I may ask for a few moments of your time, I'd appreciate some feedback about the site: what do you like about it, what don't you like, technical suggestions, what sort of music you'd like me to post in the future, etc. And if you're so inclined, tell us about yourself: where you're from, how you heard about the site and your interests. Be as brief or as wordy as you'd like.


Anonymous said...

Iftin is the bomb...

Keep up the good work.
I check in regularly...

Anonymous said...


Like: music selection, presentation, pix; and your stories that go with it.

Less like: links list is too long for me;

technical suggestions:/

Music: same; continuation of cote ivoire series, more sahel/horn of africa countries

found you through Benn loxo


Anonymous said...

your blog is perfect as it is with music different african music & you provide very good information
about it too keep up as you are doing & many many thanks from sweden

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the anniversary, and keep up the great work. Out of you and SoundRoots and Benn loxo, I discover a lot of fantastic new (to me) sounds!


Africolombia said...

Dear John,
I thank him on behalf of my fellow Colombians, for teach and present us with all their music and their valuable information,

I congratulate him on his anniversary.

Fabian -

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tremendous work you've been doing, for your deep knowledge of african music and for the great music you made us discover.
To me, your blog is THE reference, or, in other words, "simply the best".
I'm a daily visitor and, besides the links to many other music blogs that you made us discover, I like the idea of giving all the others, discographies for instance.
Of course, I specialy appreciated your recent post on Ivoirian music, as well as the first one you did (on Gnaore Djimi, by answer to my request at VOA music treasure).
I don't know if I'll eventualy get the opportunity to start a blog on Ivoirian music as I suggested at this time : it doesn't depend only of me, but I didn't give up the idea yet.
As a modest contribution to your links, here is one on Ghana music :
And 2 others that frequently post african music :
Please keep going on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John - congrats on your first year ... may you have the energy and time to continue long .. and may your good wife have the patience to keep translating and grant you the time required at your computer ... via Matsuli I became an early and regular visitor to your site - how to describe your site - well researched and written, authoritative ... clean presentation, enjoy the pics ... generous to others - quite often a surprise in store brings me back regularly ... a good sampling of a genre or artist you write about - I have learnt a lot about nigerian music from your site - though appala is not my cup of tea - about me - from South Africa, love african music - download lots free - but am spending more on buying legal downlaods and CDs than I ever did before - thanks again - chris a

oro said...

Happy birthday Likembe and long life. Thank you for mentioning my blog: Oro. Thank you for all the gold.


Sanaag said...

Hello John,

Happy anniversary and thanks for the rich and expert experience!

Although I'm hardly a blog- or internet-consumer, Likemebe is one of the music blogs I visit and recommend the most. Needless to say, I've been here mainly for the priceless lost-and-found-memories. Not only the Somali funk, but your blog also rekindled my interest in Afrobeat that was one of the soundtarcks of my life in the 80's and 90's. Didn't have much time/patience to explore all the AB posts on here, but those I listened to were great and sometimes totally new to me.

I particularly appreciate the background info. you give about artists or songs. Am a happy illiterate as far as internet technicalities are concerned, but I find your blog very friendly to the user. My only suggestion would be: Many happy returns!

Special gratitude and greetings to your wife.


kabuga said...

Congrats John.

Most of those hits from Kenya are mine, certainly..... I visit the blog at least once every 3 days. Got to know of its existence thro matsuli.

Keep it up please.

Anonymous said...

Echoing the others - many thanks for your work. I've been learning a lot here too.

I ran across the African music blogs a couple years ago near the end of the African Serenades.

My main interest in African pop is still the golden age, so this site and the others cited are invaluable for hearing the out-of-print material.

For more recent material, Awesome Tapes from Africa has also been informative.

I'm in Minnesota and have been listening to African pop for 25 years. It's grown to a huge fraction of my music-listening in the past 10 years or so, beginning with the Sonodisk reissues in the early 90s. Before that it was hard for me to find stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

A year all ready. Great blog & you do what all the best blogs do, sharing much music that I'd probably have no chance of finding in a shop here in GB, long deleted classics. While not everything is to my taste even the ones I don't like broaden my Af music education. The stuff that really hits home for me is probably the Central African & East African but the Maitre Gazonga post recently also floated my boat but don't stop trying me out on anything & everything. Technical suggestions? 'Fraid I don't know enough about the subject but the blog looks good & is easy to read. I guess all your 'listen' links post Af music at some point but it might be good if it was divided up into predominently African stuff & occasional African. Captains Crate as excellent as he is only very occasionally treats us to his W. Af treasures. Think I came across you from Matsuli.


Musiques d'Afrique said...

One year already... Apparently, it is less than a year ago that I started reading blogs on a regular basis, yours, Matsuli, Awesome Tapes from Africa...

Can't imagine how to do without these great sources of information and of unique music.

Keep on going!

Anonymous said...

Hey John

Thanks for the props - the linkage is much appreciated - and you know that I have you in my google feed reader so I get everything that you put up on the site for sure.

I even seen the posts that you pulled down after a couple of minutes. Just goes to show you that you cannot hide from the google.

I love the music and enjoy the story telling no end, you certainly have a knack for that.

But that florescent blue-green background has to go ....

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Steve, the fluorescent wallpaper stays!

Frank said...

Happy Blog-Birthday, John.
Keep up th egood work.
Personally, I like your fluorescent background.

I just saw we're both in the Village Voice together, nice one!

Anonymous said...

We are? Do you have a link?

Frank said...

Let me know if you want a sample copy of the paper itself, I could mail you one..



Anonymous said...

Congrats on your anniversary. Thanks for sharing your riches with us. I think I heard of your site from a post on one of the Yahoo African music lists. Can't say there's anything I don't like, and if there is, I'll just be grateful I have to live with it.

Kimberly said...

Hi, John,

I'm definitely behind the trend, as I just stumbled across your blog for the very first time while googling for Ethiopian music (Rahel Yohannes, in particular). What a terrific resource you have here! So nice to stumble upon some Ethiopian music beyond the Ethiopiques series. :)

Thanks so much for your hard work! Perhaps the only suggestion I would make is to categorize your labels on the left sidebar, although I'm not sure that's even possible! (For example, since you have so many labels, could you section them by country, artist name, genre, etc.?)

But that's a very minor point--overall, your site is comprehensive, easy to read, and well laid out. My only other hope would be to see even more Ethiopian music in the future!

Thanks again!

John B. said...

Kimberly: Funny you should mention it. I've got Mahmoud Ahmed Live in Addis Ababa 1992 going up soon.

John B. said...

P.S. Regarding the left-hand labels. I feel your pain, but I don't think the Blogger software allows me to break them down by category.

Kimberly said...

Hooray! I have Mahmoud Ahmed's Live In Paris album, but not a live recording in Addis. I'm sure it will make a nice addition to my small (but growing!) collection of Ethio tunes.

And as for the labels thing, yeah, I suspected it might not be possible. But since my knowledge of technology would barely fill a thimble, I thought I'd humbly suggest it anyway. While I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to do it myself, I figured that didn't mean that people with more blogging skills (read: the rest of the known world) wouldn't know how! :)

Anyway, thanks again, and I'll check back soon for the Mahmoud Ahmed!

Anonymous said...

good blog, amazing stuff! Just one thing: I cannot find a way to send you a mail or send you our new cd for a comment from your side :). It's a collaboration between musicians from Burkina Faso - Senegal - Holland and Brasil and could bedescribed as acoustic afrobeat. Please check our website or . Please let me know if you would like to receive a promo cd ?