02/03 US: Move it Chaleh! iTunes Release


D.J. Menza - Move It Chaleh!

Move it Chaleh! Words you might hear at an outdoor chop bar in Accra, Ghana, a calling for you to get up and shake it. A hint to the pungent grooves blasting out of subwoofers and beat up sound systems throughout West Africa today.

Smaller, cheaper studios are sprouting all over big African cities, allowing a new generation of artists to create and push the envelope of urban and dance music. In particular, Move It Chaleh! focuses on two underrated African trends:
Coupé décalé is the upbeat sound of Côte d’Ivoire today, a dance craze which can be heard throughout francophone Africa. It has roots in both Congolese soukous and Ivorian zouglou. It emerged at the height of the Ivorian crisis around 2002-2003, first in Paris, but it quickly spread to Ivory Coast, to Africa and now to the world.

Hiplife is a Ghanaian mish mash of hip hop, dancehall, calypso and other Caribbean styles, with highlife, itself a mix of soul and funk with more traditional Ghanaian rhythms. It has taken Ghana by storm, and it is well known to Ghanaian abroad, particularly in the US and UK, yet it is still off the radar for most.

Time to change that. Move it chaleh!

Chanana – Malian Kung Fu flick!

Chanana is half of Diata Sya, and a super chill guy who invited us to his unusually calm and breezy house in Bamako. It was nice to sit down with him and dodge the 100+ degrees under a mango tree, sip on some juice, watch some music videos and some… KUNG FU FLICKS! Not just any kung fu, but Bamako’s own take on it, via Chanana’s hilarious sense of humor. Chanana is one of Kourtrajmé‘s main guys in Bamako. If you don’t know about them, you should. A collective of non-orthodox film makers from France originally, who started doing their own shorts, and are now directing films and unavoidable music videos.

The CCF points to cool stuff

Contacts at the Centre Culturel Français (French Cultural Center) of Bamako pointed me in the direction of young musicians experimenting with traditional sounds and new music styles. I met Chanana, leader of Diata Sya, who’s first album is both creative and diverse, with hip hop and dancehall songs using typical Malian instruments and chords. Yet it’s never been released outside of Mali, it almost got released in France but the project fell through the cracks. We’re happy to give it a second chance, this time worldwide!

Through the CCF I also met two other great singers. First I met Lloyd, a Sierra Leonian who fled the war in his native land, and settled in Mali where he formed Eden Roots Liberation with his partner Patrick. I also met Jahman, who is originally from Cameroun but also chose to live in Bamako. Akwaaba will release both of their reggae albums, Genesis and Waiting for the News, which were produced and arranged by roots-sound wizard Manjul. Oh and Jahman’s album has some very nice dubs…


Eden Roots Liberation’s Sierra Leonese singer Lloyd Tommy (Bamako, Mali)