What genre of music is this?
February 2, 2015 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I love Paul Simon's Graceland album. How can I find more authentic african music in the vein of Crazy Love, Part II ? Particularly the happy, celebratory, guitar lines. I am aware of Samba Ngo, and Ladysmith BM, who I love. I want to dive into this happy sound. Help!
posted by toastchee to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Funny I was just reading about this.
Check out this mix and history post on the Kleptones blog.
I've been googling the names of the musicians on that tape and looking them up on spotify and youtube. There's so much amazing late-70s early 80s African funk/pop out there!

Special recommendation: Mahotella Queens.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:06 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

In particular, you're looking for Ray Phiri and Stimela.

Some "best of" here.

Phiri played on Crazy Love, Part II.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:07 PM on February 2, 2015

Oh, yeah! Almost forgot. This previous AskMe is an awesome rabbit hole to go down.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:12 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

That blog post also lead me to this blog: Electric Jive. Some people might call what you're looking for Afrobeat, but I disagree. South African music from that era was way more poppy and less hard funk. Check out this seminal compilation from the era: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:12 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Look into 'Kwele' music with pennywhistle Big Voice Jack Larole
Also Orchestra Baobab, because they're just wonderful.
posted by lois1950 at 12:19 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

You will adore Xavier Rudd and his band, especially the album "Koonyum Sun."
posted by jbickers at 12:20 PM on February 2, 2015

My favorite morning listening is Ryan Cooder and Ali Farka Toure in Talking Timbuktu.
posted by annathea at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2015

I've heard Paul Simon was inspired to make Graceland after hearing a compilation of South African music called The Indestructible Beat of Soweto. Whether that's true or not I don't know, but the timing of it's release and the inclusion of Ladysmith Black Mambazo helps support it. I highly recommend taking a listen (it was on Spotify last time I checked).
posted by downtohisturtles at 12:58 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I see now Potomac Avenue already covered this...
posted by downtohisturtles at 1:02 PM on February 2, 2015

One of the main genres you're asking about is called Mbaqanga.

Next Stop Soweto: Township Sounds From the Golden Age of Mbaqanga is a classic compilation.
posted by Beardman at 1:33 PM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

The answer is Omona Wapi. (The answer is always Omona Wapi.) Classic collaboration between Zairean legends Luambo Franco and Tabu Ley Rochereau.
posted by Mothlight at 3:04 PM on February 2, 2015

Guitar Paradise of East Africa may be to your liking, too.
posted by Mothlight at 3:06 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think of Highlife music when I hear this sound. I can't find anything as understated and 6/8 as this, but there is a massive history of this style in West Africa.
posted by rhizome at 3:10 PM on February 2, 2015

I was immediately reminded of Pierre Akendengué’s song “Afrika Obota” from a 1976 album of the same name.
posted by D.C. at 12:37 AM on February 3, 2015

Response by poster: So many good leads!!! Thanks all!
posted by toastchee at 3:37 AM on February 3, 2015

There's a good South African music podcast called Tune Me What? that has an episode about the artists that play on Graceland. The Boyoyo Boys (check out this tune) were apparently the inspiration of the sound and as mentioned above, Ray Phira played a lot of the guitar on the album.

Beardman is right that you want to look for mbaqanga music. It was also sometimes called "township jive" so that might be useful for searching.

A similar style of current zulu guitar music is called maskandi (or maskanda). I have albums by Bhekumuzi Luthuli and Ihhash'Elimhlophe that I enjoy quite a lot.

I'd second recommendations for the Indestructible Beat of Soweto and Next Stop Soweto.

You should also check out Gumboot Guitar: Zulu Street Music from South Africa. There's also a fantastic series called African Renaissance: Music from the SABC Archive that has some really great guitar music on it. I have the Zulu and Ndebele/ North Sotho volumes.

Finally check out Soweto Never Sleeps, which is an album of female "township jive"/ mbaqanga music heavily featuring the Mahotella Queens.
posted by adrianb at 1:43 PM on February 3, 2015

The search term that I used to find a lot of stuff similar was "township" which is a hybrid combination with a long, long South African history.
posted by klangklangston at 3:47 PM on February 3, 2015

There's so many different genres this could lead you into. Different countries, different styles. Modern and vintage. But you could try looking through Congolese music as well as South African, it's very dancey and tuneful. (I'm old school and I like Franco, Tshala Muana and Papa Wemba. THERE ARE SO MANY MARVELLOUS BANDS.)

You could arguably say Highlife evolved into Juju, and you could perhaps say West African band music is more challenging to Western tastes than South African - it's rhythmically and in other ways more complex - but you might be interested to check out Sunny Ade. It's keep-you-on-your-feet-dancing-till-dawn music. Wikipedia.

African artists were generally starting to be be played in the West in the early 80's - I saw The Drummers of Burundi and Alhaji Bai Konte at WOMAD in 1982, and you could buy artists' music there. And we went to WOMAD because we'd already been finding African LPs in record stores for maybe 2, 3 years (a nice homesickness remedy for me.) I'm not sure when the recording studio in Box started up but as it's still a source of African and World music, the website might be somewhere to explore.
posted by glasseyes at 7:03 AM on February 4, 2015

Yeah, my first exposure to this style was the WOMAD compilation "Music and Rhythm," which changed my life in many ways when I got it as a 14 year old.
posted by rhizome at 12:13 PM on February 4, 2015

Just north of South Africa in Zimbabwe, you'll find Oliver Mtukudzi. Check out the classic Tuku Music album.
posted by ReginaHart at 5:02 PM on February 5, 2015

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