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.
Akwaaba is launching a podcast to showcase more music, more interpretations of the Akwaaba sound, and more collaborations with artists from all over the globe.
The first episode is a pungent DJ mix by our good friend DJ Chief Boima (SF, ironmilitis.com). He mixes in 8 tracks from our upcoming second release, Chaleh Move It!, which is packed with dancefloor sounds from Ghana and Ivory Coast. Hiplife, coupé décalé, kuduro, hip hop and much more, Boima throws it all down for your bum bum moving pleasure.
Today I met with Ivorian stars DJ Menza and Kedjevara, what a trip. Menza flaunted a skin tight white outfit, Kedjevara was slightly more subtle, and both were down with Akwaaba, so we’ll be releasing some of their coupé décalé hits for the rest of the world to enjoy and dance!
Kedjevara and Benjamin Lebrave finalizing their deal in Yopougon (Abidjan, Ivory Coast)
It’s Friday night, Abidjan is steaming, and we’re headed to the Rue Princesse. Numerous ‘maquis’ (outdoor bars) line up one of West Africa’s most notorious party spots. The place is booming with coupé décalé and zouglou beats, the voices of Kedjevara, Menza, Les Patrons or DJ Bonano mingling with shouts, laughter, cars honking and street vendors vending! There’s usually no dancefloor at most maquis’, when people feel like dancing, they get up and dance right where they are, standing or at their table.
A Maquis in Yopougon’s Rue Princesse (Abidjan, Ivory Coast)