Saw a South African choir performing on late night T.V. It had nothing to do with the weird pop I used to listen to in Y2K-era Benin (as my dad wrote at the time “Tie down the goats! It’s Y2K!”), and yet I was suddenly crushed with nostalgia for distorted guitar riffs from worn cassette tapes in taxis or blasted out of speakers in bars. So I present the blog’s first mini-mix. West African pop.

1. Band: Magic System
Song: 1er Gaou magicsystem.jpg
Comment: “Gaou” means something equivalent to the expression “Big Man” in Cote D’Ivoire. Premiere gaou n’est past gaou, OH-oh. C’est deuxieme gaou qui est (??) gaou, OH oh. Way to lay it on the line, Magic System!

1er Gaou

2. Band: Makoma
Song: Nzambe Na Bomoyi makoma.jpg
Comment: Brothers and sisters. Christian synth-pop. Think “Congolese Hanson”. I totally dug them back in the day, primarily because of the absence of that ubiquitous Congolese guitar-playing style (Soukouss?). And also the absence of the ubiquitous-yet-past-his-prime-and-far-too-famous Koffi Olomide (We saw him in concert once and he just did that Kirk Franklin thing, grunting and saying “uh-uh” behind a posse of lithe singers and dancers. Fittingly, he was wearing a green leisure suit). Anyway. Makoma. Nowadays the cheesy casio keyboard instrumentation causes some inner lament. But hey, JESUS FOR LIFE!

Nzambe Na Bomoyi

3. Band: ??
Song: L’amour Ne S’achete Pas
Comment: This song comes off of a compilation called Benin Passion. It had big names and songs from the 60′s through the 80′s. This is one of them. The title means “love can’t be bought,” by pascal medagbe. It’s not exactly current pop, but it is Beninese. What I wouldn’t give for a little Panthere Noir (A Beninese band that was just getting some buzz the year we left).

L’amour Ne S’achete Pas

The biggest name to come out of Benin is Angelique Kidjo, who belts it out like a prizefighter of the vocal cords (ooh that’s a terrible simile), but since she sells her music in the states I better not put a track on here. If you want to hear really good West African music, check out the podcasts over at benn loxo du taccu.