|Rumba-Kali Radio presents: Hot Koki! 60 minutes of 70's African funk & disco exclusives - mixed by dj Juma4
Cleaning out the attic we bumped into a box with old vinyl from the 1970's. With the recent string of re-releases of African classics, it's not a hidden secret that Africa has had its fair share of soul, funk and disco. Producers around the world have started to pay respect by reworking the old tracks into their music. Sometimes they actually paid royalties like they should, though there are some examples of even recent hip hop beats that came out uncleared like the Jaydee produced track 'Heat' on Common's album 'Like water for chocolate' in 2000, which uses a Tony Allen sample. In African hip hop, sampling locally released music is still an exception, for various reasons including legal issues (and the producer not being familiar with copyright laws) but certainly also a lack of knowledge among younger cats of their musical heritage.
So what's inside the crate: a balanced mix of African soul, funk, disco and jazz from the early to late 1970's. Surprisingly, one of the tracks here is a classic b-boy break which was used by the first hip hop dj's in the Bronx as early as 1978 at their block parties. Thus African funk played its part in the foundation of hip hop. Much of the other material was not available outside Africa at all, for example Geraldo Pino's singles which are still hard to obtain and sell for over 100 dollars each on Ebay...
Your best bet of getting hold of this music is by buying compilations such as Africafunk (Harmless records), Club Africa (Strut) or Ghana Soundz (Soundway). But to those who live in any of Africa's big cities: it's definitely worth asking around where your parents or their friends keep their old vinyl! There are pearls which haven't been heard for ages and if you talk to the artists or their heirs, you will find out that it's not impossible to give the music from the past a new life in your own beats.
Special thanks to Pieter Remes and Dusty Kid (Strictly Breaks) for their help in digging up some of these tunes...!
Click here to listen (mp3 stream, will work in Winamp, Windows Media player, Realplayer etc).
1. Monomono (Nigeria) - Get yourself together
Just like Fela Kuti a couple of years before him, Nigerian musician Joni Haastrup (see his photo above) lived abroad but moved back to Nigeria in 1970. The scala of influences he'd brought along come together on the great album 'Dawn of awareness' which he released with his group Monomono in 1974. The cover has a shoutout to the king of afrobeat: 'Thanks to brother Fella for the little hint that did a good job' and indeed Monomono's sound is much like Fela's, but the song structure is a bit different, more like regular pop songs.
2. Minzoto ya Zaire (DR Congo) - Minzoto
Not much known about this group, the track is from a tape though you can still find the vinyl here & there.
3. André-Marie Tala (Cameroon 1973) - Hot Koki
This track is a lesser known example of plagiarism by an American musician of an originally African tune. Tala, a well known singer in early 70's Congo, made a demo of this song and passed it to James Brown when he toured Cameroon. Seemingly the Godfather liked it a lot, because he re-recorded it and released it as his own song, the single 'Hustle'. In doing so, he took all credit for composing. Tala got wise and sued Brown, and he actually won the case! Another well known example of plagiarism plus succesful court case is Michael Jackson's use of a Manu Dibango phrase ('Mamase mamasa mamakosa') in the early 80's.
4. James Brown (USA) - Hustle!
This is James Brown's version of Hot Koki. Don't think that Andre-Marie Tala covered Brown's version!
5. Pacific Express (South Africa) - Black Fire
The Jazzfusion group Pacific Express from Cape Town released a couple of classic albums in the late 70's. Their influences included Earth Wind & Fire, and though there's ground for comparison they did have their own sound. Working under the restrictive apartheid law, their messages had to be brought out in subtle ways but the title of this track speaks for itself. Pacific Express was the group of Issy Ariefdien, the father of Shaheen (of the legendary rap group Prophets of da City), other members were Robbie Jansen and Jonathan Butler who went on to be well known jazz musicians. Their 'Anthology' cd's are still available by order.
6. Geraldo Pino (Sierra Leone) - Power to the people
Geraldo Pino is credited for introducing a new sound to West Africa and being a major source of inspiration to people like Fela Kuti. This track from the album 'Let's Have a Party' received a single release in Kenya (yes, that's on the other side of Africa, several thousands of miles from Sierra Leone) on the tiny Suzumi label!
7. Mataya Clifford (Zimbabwe) - Amazing Grace
Mataya Clifford Chewaluza recorded and released in UK. The album 'Star fell from heaven' is dedicated to 'all the beautiful women in my life'! This track certainly reminds of the New Orleans soul-funk of Dr John or the Meters.
8. Black Blood (Zambia/Belgium) - Be happy
The group Black Blood released two disco albums which for the most part are an odd mix of disco and rock, with lyrics in Swahili. The track 'Be happy' is interesting for its big disco break halfway.
9. Makonde (Kenya) - Manzara
The track 'Manzara' is one of those tunes that defined hip hop, as it was used by the pioneer deejays in the late 70's. Apparently this will be rereleased in the near future by Strictly breaks on their 'School Yard Breaks' series. The original was on blue vinyl 12 inch. There's another very wild and percussive Makonde tune called 'Soseme Makonde' which was released on a 45rpm single back-to-back with a funk song by Natalie Cole.
10. Manu Dibango (Cameroon) - Weya
This track is well known for being sampled by Jungle Brothers's on 'Straight out the Jungle'. It features on the classic Soul Makossa album from 1973.
11. C.K. Mann (Ghana) - Funky Hi-Life
Ck Mann's did a good job by putting the break at the start of this song. If you need it on vinyl, try the bootleg compilation 'Butter' which was released in the mid 90's, otherwise buy the compilation 'The Shrine Presents Afrobeat' (Ocho) or the Rough Guide to the Music of Nigeria & Ghana.
12. Pasteur Lappé (Cameroon) - More sekele movement (Papa ni mama)
Most of Lappé's album 'We the people' borders on cheasiness (one song has his white French lady rapping about how she cried when they met on the airport, plus her pic is on the back cover) but there's a couple of dance tracks too.
13. Jide Obi (Nigeria) - Tonight
Jode Obi would be the winner of our funky album cover contest with his 'Front page star'. You will either hate or love his fragile voice with the lisp, but over this very commercial disco tune it sounds perfect. The lyrics are more proof that disco was not about consciousness, the singer is just describing what he's gonna do with his girl when they get to the hotel room.
14. Geraldo Pino (Sierra Leone) - Africans must unite
Another rare Pino 45' with a message that we can still subscribe to, 30 years after.
15. Ikenga Super Stars of Africa (Nigeria) - Soffrey Soffry Catch Monkey
This tune has a strange history as it was re-released with a different sleeve and a fake name! Probably to avoid copyright problems, the bootleggers named it 'Soul Ethiopia' by the Ka-la-ka Afrobeat Band. The bootleg even features a biography which states that Ka-la-ka are from Ethiopia...! In reality, it's a very rare and expensive album by Ikenga from Nigeria.
16. Unknown track (Ivory Coast)
This track is from the 'Assalam Aleikoum Africa' album which we had on tape, then digitized to cd and lost the track listing. So you'll just have to hunt down the original!