Image taken from the article Knowledge Session: The Griot Tradition from the site I Am Hip Hop.

Don't leave your cables at home in the expectation that the studio will be well stocked with really basic stuff like USB-A, cause it won't be and then you'll have no controller and will spend all your time hunting everywhere for cables and won't have time to make a playlist and your DJ software won't work and you'll have to just play whatever comes into your head and all through the headphone jack on your laptop and it'll sound crap and you won't be able to mix it properly.

We start with Mali, there's a blast of Burkinabé hip-hop, and new tunes and some not-new tunes from current favourites Diron Animal, Baloji and Konono No 1, Tshegue and KOKOKO! We also have some great Arabic electronic from Tropikal Camel and we end with a New Orleans brass band dirge from 1951.

Broadcast on Dublin Digital Radio at 7pm on June 23rd 2019

Link to high quality downloadable version at end of the page.
Artist Title Time
Kandiafa Kele Magni 00:00
Issa & Alpha Djarabané 04:39
BKO Tangwanana 10:16
Luka Productions Badjan 13:47
Diron Animal Coupé Leluk 17:30
Joey le Soldat Burkin Bâ 20:53
Joey le Soldat D.M.D. 23:32
Art Melody Béog Kamba 27:01
Art Melody L'ébène est dans le noir 28:12
Art Melody Rogomiki 30:24
GoldLink Zulu Screams 32:18
Wiley & Stefflon Don & Sean Paul Boasty 35:09
Baloji with Konono N°1 Karibu Ya Bintou 38:03
Kokoko! Buka Dansa 44:33
Tshegue Solola 48:48
Tropikal Camel Zachotronic 52:00
Eureka brass band West Lawn Dirge 58:31

To begin... yet another illustration of the depth and flexibility of Malian music - djeli ngoni Kandiafa in collaboration with the producer and percussionist Vincent Dorléans. The album is called "Malian Country" but a more accurate description would be a rich blend of Reinheardt-style jazz, flamenco, bluegrass, finger-picking country and native Malian styles. There is an article in Pan African Music (in French) giving details of the history of the project.

Next is Alpha & Issa - something I stumbled on but can't find much about. The title of their album is "North Mali Griot Beats". I guess they figure that's as much information as anyone really needs.  

I have to say that it's frequently frustrating trying to get hold of some of this music - much of it is only available on a particular subset of streaming platforms - so endless switching between iTunes, Spotify, Google Music etc etc is required. I wish that all these artists would put stuff on Bandcamp so that I could know that they had a chance of getting properly paid.

Still... it's a lot easier than having to go to a record shop to try to ask them to order in a vinyl copy of some Zimbabwean gospel music, but you only know the name of one song which you're trying to pronounce after hearing it said once over crackly medium wave by some bloke with a strong Lancashire accent trying to phonetically read out something written on a record sleeve in the Shona language.

Third up is a track from BKO, who are a recent discovery and will probably feature a few times again - there are several really great tracks on their two(?) albums. After that Luka Productions. Both these acts skillfully integrating traditional Malian with modern elements.

Here's an article from Baba Maal on Afrcian music which starts with the words "If you want to understand African music you should start in Mali."


We then move onto more modern, European sounds. Diron Animal - an Angolan/Portuguese artist - has just released a new album. Then we have an extended selection of Burkinabé hip-hop. Art Melody has featured many times before. This time we also have a few selections from his countryman Joey le Soldat. What passes for hip-hop in Africa is often derivative, autotune-drenched dross so it's great to see artists passionately invested in producing work that doesn't compromise musically or politically.

A brief detour outside Africa with GoldLink (USA) collaborating with the British-Nigerian artist Maleek Berry - Zulu Screams draws heavily on modern African sounds. Plus we have the dancehall hit Boasty, featured here mainly because it features all of Wiley, Stefflon Don, Sean Paul and Idris Elba.

KOKOKO! and Tshegue seem to put out something new and amazing about once a month at the moment. Hard to keep up. Tshegue have a new E.P. called Telema out last week. Most of the tracks have been heard before but there's one new one, Solola, featured here. KOKOKO!  have a new album called Fongola coming out in a few days. Plus I'm hoping to catch them at the All Together Now festival in August - exciting times - they are shaping up to be one of the most exciting bands around so a bunch of new tunes from them is a big deal.

I'm working my way through Baloji's back catalogue - another very interesting and creative individual - here in collaboration with the wonderful and demented Konono No 1. This is from an album of collaborations with a load of artists from Kinshasa that he did in 2017 called Kinshasa Succursale on the great label Crammed Discs which is well worth checking out.

Tropikal Camel featured on the wonderful Arabstazy compilation Under Frustration last year. He's just released a new album called Awakening Spirits.

We finish with a wonderful dirge from the Eureka brass band from 1951. This album is a collaboration between the amazing Mississippi Records of Portland, Oregon and new friend Sing a Song Fighter of Stockholm, Sweden.