What do you think about when you think about Africa? What do you hear when you listen to Africa? And, what does one write about when they write about Africa? These questions are important questions. Single dimensions are rampant in many visions of Africa, particularly concerning the political and economic instability of many African nations. However, these common struggles don’t equate singular cultural expressions, an easy lens to pick up when few alternatives are offered.
African musics vary immensely, though what is often brought to the U.S. ear is a window of African music that shines with a Pop brightness most easily digestible by short attention spans and a low tolerance for abrasion. African music is Amadou & Mariam, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Toure, and all those groups Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel worked with, whatever their names are. These artists are legendary and important, however is that what Africa listens to? No. At least, not anymore. Since Hip-Hop’s rise to global prominence, most major urban centers in Africa: Nairobi, Abuja, Kampala, Abidjan, listen to Rap music. 2pac, Biggie, and Jay-Z.
Dutty Artz co-founder DJ Rupture (Matt Shadetek is the 2nd half) helms the mixing in this introduction to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivore’s Rap group CIAfrica, made up of producer Green Dog (Amadou Komara) and a host of rappers like Manusa, Barboza, and Prince Abraham. There could hardly be a better candidate to create a path through their music, as Rupture is best known for mixtapes like Gold Teeth Thief, where he fused the abrasivness of Breakcore and Noise with American Rap/R&B, Dancehall, and Middle Eastern Rai, offering a worldview that signified cultural/musical embrace while never claiming that it was as easy as it sounds.
CIAfrica are one of the few Hip-Hop projects to coalesce on the African continent that provide an evocative portrayal of political turmoil, cynicism, and outrage. Often filled with the chaos of compressed snares and drums, earth-shaking bass, and lyrical ferocity, CIAfrica is the raw underbelly of West African urbanity, where the marginalized musics of the colonized and the colonizer are channeled by political frustration and economic unrest.
Traditional West African music is no where to be seen here, and why does it have to be? The prideful, power-hungry energy of Rap, Jamaican Dancehall and UK Grime is as much a part of the globe’s musical narrative as they lead back to their respective places of origin. Manusa’s “J’Fuck” is available for download below, and will no doubt whet your appetite for the delightful grist and dirt that is CIAfrica. Also, check out CIAfrica’s video for “Dans Mons Pays” for visual representation of what is often consumed aurally.
DJ Rupture Presents: CIAfrica is out today on Dutty Artz and can be purchased on Boomkat.