While most ‘Best of Africa’ lists either countdown the worst humanitarian situations or most kleptocratic rulers of the year, Banning Eyre has crafted an excellent list: The Best African Music of 2008.
At number 1, the Kasai Allstars syncopate those ‘I-come-from-an-extractive-resource-mining-area’ grooves with classic Kinshanan guitar riffs. Beneath their classic Congolese tunes, the Allstars’ music sounds heavily influenced by the West African stringed-instrument rhythm and timing of Rye Cooder and Ali Farke Toure. A new possible direction for Congolese music?
Also worth checking out is Franco et le TPOK Jazz’s Francophonic at number 9. Much like Tupac, Franco has put out more CDs post-mortem than during his lifetime. This CD rings true to some of his early 1960s discs with soft guitars and light melodies. Too bad Franco isn’t around today – according to an amazing read on the history of popular music in the DRC, Franco was the only person who could publicly criticize Mobutu and eat dinner with him the next day.
In 2009, I’m looking forward to Amadou and Mariam’s cd, ‘Welcome to Mali,’ which will be hitting American markets on March 24th. If you haven’t heard of them, a funky place to start out is their 2004 collaboration with Manu Chao, Dimanche à Bamaka: