While studying hip-hop in Ghana in 2004-2005, Brian Shimkovitz quickly realized that most people outside of Africa have little to no idea of what life there is actually like, even when it comes to music. Although a small handful of African artists gain exposure outside the continent, much of the music that everyday people listen to at home, work, parties, and in the club remains a mystery. Using a hefty stock of cassette tapes acquired during his studies, in 2006 Shimkovitz launched Awesome Tapes from Africa, a blog devoted to sharing these hard-to-find musical gems with audiences outside of Africa. Here at XLR8R we’ve long been fans of the blog, so we tapped Shimkovitz to put together an exclusive mix for our weekly podcast series, and rather than try to neatly summarize things ourselves, we’ve decided to let Brian describe the mix in his own words.
Considering the musical diversity on the continent, this mix just scratches the surface in terms of beat-driven [music], more on the pop/dance side of things. I chose to highlight songs that really stand out to me, songs with incessant rhythms that translate in a variety of contexts, all of which can help make you move. While there are entire spectra of vintage African funk, disco, and Afrobeat to explore elsewhere, this mix culls some of my all-time favorite jams as it moves from electro-juju (King Sunny Ade) to disco highlife (J.A. Adofo) to Senegalese rap (Bill Diakhou) to Kenyan guitar breakdowns (Charles A. Chepkwony) to Zimbabwean dance numbers (John Chibadura) and beyond.
01 King Sunny Ade – “Ase” – (Island)
02 J.A. Adofo – “Medo Wiase” – (Agya Paye)
03 Souley Kante – “Diamanadia” – (Jaamnaty)
04 Bill Diakhou – “Gorgui” – (Gadiaga)
05 Yacouba Kante – “Djandjo”
06 Bainito Muyanda – “Gari Mademo Shina”
07 Charles A. Chepkwony – “Magtalena” – (Chandarana)
08 John Chibaudra and the Tempo Brothers – “Ambuya Vangu”
09 J.A. Adofo – “Aba No Saa” – (Agya Paye)
10 Kante Manfila – “Coh Coco” – (Disques Esperance)