Friday, August 14, 2009

The Roots of Nigerian Rap!

Imagine the imagination of one useless small boy the other day... Just because I said that I'm not feeling most of the contemporary hip-hop coming out of Nigeria right now (though I'm happy for its success), this guy had the audacity to tell me that I just don't understand hip-hop and I need to take the time to go and study the history of the music and culture!

My guy... I was repping hip-hop in Naija before most of these kids out there were even a warm glow spreading across their dad's groin region. And I should mention that this was way before rappin' was by any stretch considered "cool" in Nigeria. Yo, where's my man Deinma? Where's Koko? Molo, do you hear me? Remember how we were ridiculed by our peers? Remember how when we would bust rhymes in the staircase, everybody thought we were stupid (and not stupid fresh)? Remember when the verb "rapping" because synonymous with talking idiotic nonsense? Remember how they told us that rap was a passing fad that went out with breakdancing and that we were just too retarded to see that it wasn't going to last?

Ha! Who's laughing NOW, suckers?

Today in Nigeria, hip-hop is the music that revitalized the country's near-moribund music scene and is considered "the voice of the generation" but I want to give props to the first generation of Nigerian hip-hoppers who built this city. So me and my peeps at have collaborated on this lesson on the first decade of rap music in Nigeria.


(Big ups to my girl Ivory Dome, by the way)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Two mixes for Sunday night

On the real, I haven't felt much like writing anything since, y'know... the whole thing with MJ and everything, but I just thought I'd share this great mix of J5 and early Michael solo stuff, courtesy of DJ Jaycee (who I don't know, but someone sent this mix to me on the day the news broke, and it kinda got me over).
DJ Jaycee presents Michael Jackson: The Soulful Years

1. Intro
2. Sugar Daddy
3. ABC (Jaycee's '86 Ultrasound Mix)
4. It's Great To Be Here
5. Jaycee Wants You Back
6. My Girl
7. I Wanna Be Where You Are
8. Dancing Machine
9. Dance In Peace Dilla! (Detroit Style)
10. Mama's Pearl
11. The Boogie Man Interlude
12. Can You Remember
13. Ready Or Not (Here I Come)
14. Never Can Say Goodbye
15. If I Don't Love You This Way
16. I'll Be There
17. My Cherie Amour
18. I Don't Know Why I Love You
19. Born To Love You
20. Don't Say Good Bye Again
21. The Love You Save
22. Ben
23. All I Do Is Think Of You
24. I Am Love Ft. Jermaine
25. Call On Me
26. Ain't No Sunshine
27. Dear Michael
28. Everybody's Somebody's Fool
29. Got To Be There
30. Maybe Tomorrow
31. La La La (Means I Love You)
32. People Make The World Go Round
33. With A Child's Heart
34. What Up Khrysis
35. 2-4-6-8
36. Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
37. If I Have To Move A Mountain

If mourning Mike ain't your bag (or even if it is), I suggest you check out this wicked selection of Nigerian rock and funk by old friend Obafunkie jR, courtesy of new friend Mr. Wonderful of the Nuts to Soup podcast:


As can be expected from Obafunkie, it's some nice stuff!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Damn man.

I mean, just...


A fuckin' era ends.

Between Farrah Fawcett and now this, it's like today's the day that all the pop culture icons of my formative life are being snuffed before my eyes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Journey to Luna

The photo above was grabbed from this video of Fela Ransome-Kuti performing at the famous Luna Nite Club in Calabar in 1971. I don't think I ever went to Luna; I was still in primary school during the club's glory days and even when I came of age, it wasn't really the kind of establishment I would frequent. For one thing, it was located in a slightly unsavory neck of the woods: the "Old Calabar" precinct that is now known as "Calabar South" and is today--as it was then--legendary for its rough characters. Among my middle-class stratum, we sometimes called this area "Target," a synecdoche referring to Target Street, one of the more rugged byways in that quarter of town. ("Target" was also an allusion to what an interloper might as well have his back wandering around that neighborhood after dark.) If someone owed you money or was messing with you, commissioning some thugs from "Target" to help you settle the score usually got the message across that you meant business.

Calabar had a spectrum of nightspots, with Paradise City on Atekong Drive representing the more upscale end and something like Hotel de Moon Rock on Mount Zion Road as the seedier extreme, but Luna was somewhere in the middle: a pleasure pit where you could relax, drink your Star or your Gulder and maybe enjoy some bushmeat--be it the kind that's bound with twine, soaked in tangy sauce and served with roasted plantains, or the variety that you might take back to one of the "chalets" behind the club that could be rented for a 30-minute "short-time" term ("bushmeat" being the local slang for a young woman who is relatively unsophisticated culturally and thus, is presumed to be reasonably available sexually).

If it was dancing you liked to dance, though, the big draw at Luna might have been the Anansa President, Bustic Kingsley Bassey, whose band was resident at the club for years.

Bustic (or Burstic, same pronunciation) was a local legend but never made much of a splash on a national level. Truthfully, he was a bit of a journeyman. While he undoubtedly delivered rousing shows on the Luna stage, I don't think he ever really developed a distinctive sound of his own. The records I have heard from the late 1960s and very early 70s, for instance, capture Bustic performing in a style very reminiscent of Rex Lawson's "New Calabar" danceband highlife.

Commissioner Burstic Kingsley Bassey and His Professional Pioneer Dance Band of Nigeria - "Ntinke Iko Edem"

It would seem, though, that Fela's Luna performance left a significant impression on Bustic because shortly thereafter, he started calling himself the Chief Engineer and plying a heavily Fela-influenced afrobeat style, even mimicking the nuances of the Chief Priest's laid-back, delirious vocal style.

The two tracks below are from the 1975 LP Gossip, when Bustic was still in his deep Fela phase.

Bustic Kingsley Bassey's Anansa Engineers - "Journey to Luna"
Bustic Kingsley Bassey's Anansa Engineers - "Allow Me Talk My Own"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Facts of the Apostles

The Apostles - "Feeling Happy"

I almost forgot to mention: If you are in the market for some firsthand accounts of the 1970s Eastern Nigerian rock scene, then I'd suggest that you check out the podcast by my cousin Dr. Frederick Nwosu a.k.a. "Arthur Freds," who was a keyboardist in several Aba-based bands including The Friimen, The Sweet Unit/Rock of Ages Band, The Vibrations and Jerry Boifriand's Exodus Bolt Junction as well as occasionally sitting in with groups like The Apostles and the Sweet Breeze.

He often recounts some of his experiences in the Aba music scene on his blog and his podcast can be found HERE.

The next show will stream live tomorrow, Monday June 22, at 12 PM (ET) and the subject will be The Apostles.

EDIT: Or actually, it looks like the next episode will be on the Friimen Rock Company... The last episode (which you can listen to at the link above) talked about Apostles, but I thought he was going to continue with that this week.

Saturday highlife (on Sunday)


1. Come Again - Stephen Osadebe and his "Nigeria Sound Makers"
2. Kolowo Lode - Victor Olaiya and his "All Stars"

1. Ibi Na Bo - Pastor Rex Lawson and his "Mayor's Dance Band"
2. 750 x 20 - Roy Chicago and his "Rhythm Dandies"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't you know?

For all you electro-boogie heads, here's a nice nugget from 1984: "Don't You Know?" by Peter Abdul, produced by Odion Iruoje taking a stab at the Dizzy K. sound (note Nkono Teles' presence on keys).

Peter Abdul - "Don't You Know?"

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It came from the 80s...

Just a few quick picks today, folks... A random selection of rare pop tracks from the 1980s.

Saint Emmy - "Something Real, Something Good"

Saint Emmy started his career playing with Celestine Ukwu's Philosophers and other bands before going solo in the mid-70s. While he never really achieved major stardom on a national level, he remained a favorite in Eastern Nigeria, particularly in the fertile music scene of Enugu which included luminaries such as Nelly Uchendu, William Onyeabor and Goddy "Mr. Hygrades" Oku. This dubby track from his 1984 LP Good Good Love was recorded at Oku's Godiac Studio, backed by the Comrades Rock Group of Enugu.

Akin Nathan and the Jubilees - "Oja Ni K'Aiye"

Akin Nathan was a seasoned session saxophonist who featured on several albums but is chiefly known for his tenure with Sonny Okosuns' Ozziddi during the group's most productive period in the 70s and 80s. Nathan's "Jubilees" on this 1980 solo outing include drummer Moses "Mosco" Egbe, guitarist Nelson Tackie, keyboard player Johnnie Woode Olimah and bassist Vincent Toko--all fellow members of Ozziddi.

Robo Arigo - "Them Crazy"

Robo Arigo's Sexy Thing album is in my opinion one of the rarest and most rewarding funk LPs of the 1980s. I like the rough and demo-ish quality of it, with his vocals mixed down low throughout to showcase his funky chops. The former Pogo Ltd. multi-instrumentalist went on to establish himself as an Nkono Teles-style super-producer with his Robbosoneex Music Company in Benin.

Racheal Jerry I. and Her Golden Voice '82 - "I Want To Be a Star"

There's a certain earnestness and naivete to Racheal Jerry I.'s "I Want To Be a Star" that I find quite charming. The bio on her album sleeve recounts her struggle to make it in the music business through disappointment and exploitation before finally realizing the dream of cutting an album in Victor Uwaifo's Joromi Recording Studio, accompanied by his Titibiti Kings!

Racheal never really became a star, but her Close to Me was supposedly the first LP produced by a female artiste from Rivers State... so there's that.

Donaldson Maduh Jr. - "Pretty Julie"

You might have heard this one on the last guest session I did over at Boogieheads. I call records like this "Dizzy K as genre"--high-pitched male singers over Afro-electro-disco tracks in the style of popular 80s star Dizzy K. Falola. The name is probably a bit of a misnomer as there were some common denominators to the style: most of these records were either produced by Dizzy K. producer Tony Okoroji, or featured multi-instrumentalist Nkono Teles, who played on most of Dizzy's records. Donaldson's 1986 record was actually produced by part-time Doves member Chuck Lygomm (who also played the guitars, Rhodes and synths) though Okoroji is thanked on the sleeve for "encouragement" and Dizzy K. himself contributes backing vocals.

And finally, another cut in a semi-Dizzy K. mold...

Jombo - "Squeeze Me"

Gorgeous electro-boogie production by Nkono Teles. The singing is pretty dreadful of course, but you got a lot of that in the "private label" period of the 1980s. If the 1960s and 70s were the era of the professional musician and the big, seemingly impenetrable record companies, the 80s were a time when every youth wanted to make a record and if you could beg, borrow or steal enough money you didn't have to worry whether you had the talent or style to impress the suits at the big companies. You just made the trip to Lagos, Enugu or Onitsha and hooked up with a studio wizard like Teles, Jake Sollo or Sol "Tula" Owen, you booked your studio session, they cooked up some hot tracks for you and you did your awkward best over them in the time allotted. You pressed the record up yourself under your own banner, took it back home and got some regional radio and TV play. You got to be a local champion or a big shot at your school for a few months and then faded back into obscurity until twenty-some years later when some blogger cast a hazy spotlight on you once more. Maybe you can't exactly call it a career, but it's... something.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Time for some Actions!

We've talked before about the Warri-based band Aktion (a.k.a. The Aktion Funk Ensemble) which started out as The Actions, one of the "army-entertaining" bands of the immediate post-civil war era. The members of the group included, at various points, leader Lemmy Faith, Essien Akpabio, Ben Alaka, Renny Pearl, Felix "Feladey" Odey and Tony Essien.

One of these days I'll figure out why many bands in the 1970s switched from standard "The" names to placing arbitrary numbers after their monikers, but just as The Heralds became Heralds 7 and The Founders became The Founders 15 (then Foundars 15 and finally Foundars XV), The Actions transformed into Action 13 before arriving at Aktion.

Aktion disbanded in the mid-70s, but the group's name lived on through Action Inn, a hotel Essien Akpabio established in the town of Ikot Ekpene. It was located around Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road, if I recall correctly; when I was in high school at Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene more adventurous guys than myself would sneak off the school compound to hang out at Action and other joints like SUA International Guest House and drink beer, smoke cigarettes and mingle with ladies of dubious repute.

Ah... Simpler times, man.

The Actions - "Kpokposikposi"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cliff David (1945-2009)

Since I've not been posting that much lately, I didn't get to mention the passing of Clifford David Nwaire--a.k.a. "Cliff David," leader of the Cloud 7 pop group--a few weeks ago.

Cloud 7, who released five albums between 1978 and 1987, were one of the most popular music acts in Nigeria, with their hit "Beautiful Woman" in particular resonating as an evergreen classic.

In recent years, David had settled in Aba and dedicated his life to evangelism, even releasing a gospel album called Thank You Jesus.

He will be buried tomorrow at Ikperejere, Ihitte-Uboma Local Government Area, Imo State. May his soul rest in peace, and may his music live on.

DOWNLOAD On Cloud 7: Tribute to Cliff David

(Cliff David photos courtesy of Emmanuel Ohayagha)


...and oh yeah...


I've also got a couple of records I'm selling up on eBay, so check 'em out and drop a bid if you're interested. There will be more to come in the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Charlotte Dada... revealed!

I hate the way my updates have become increasingly infrequent, but I've got a couple of projects that have been taking up a lot of time. Funny thing is that I actually have been writing new entries, but I never get around to actually posting them. I think I've got about two months worth of posts and music in the backlog, so I might as well just roll those out, huh?

Here's a post from a few months ago. I was originally going to give this "scoop" to Matt over at Benn Loxo since Charlotte Dada is the unofficial mascot of that blog, but he's not updated since last December so I ended up just sitting on it.


Whenever I watch Soul to Soul, Denis Sanders' film documenting the 1971 independence anniversary concert in Accra, Ghana, featuring American music stars such as Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner, Roberta Flack and Santana, one question always comes to mind: Where are the Ghanaian artists who performed at the concert?

Surely I can understand how commercial (and even legal) concerns might have necessitated the focus upon the more familiar visiting American musicians, but I think the spirit of cultural exchange and pan-African fellowship the film's title suggests would have been better served by throwing some shine on the local performers who also graced the stage at that show.

I'm assuming that those performances were also filmed, and that the footage is lying around somewhere. Hopefully someone releases it one of these days, but in the meantime, let's give a little face time to some of the Ghanaian stars who didn't make the cut with some bios scanned from the original concert program pamphlet.

(Click on images to bigify)

I'll admit that I'm particularly pleased to present the pic of the enigmatic Charlotte Dada; as far as I know, her photo has never appeared online though I've heard that a documentary on her was produced a few years ago:

Charlotte Dada - "Don't Let Me Down"
Cool Blaze Band feat. Charlotte Dada - "Everything Cool"

The Aliens - "We're Laughing"
The Aliens - "Blofonyobi Wo Atale"

The Guy Warren Sounds - "Blood Brothers"
The Guy Warren Sounds - "Love, The Mystery Of"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

K'Naan - "T.I.A."

Nabil does it again. Dude is very quickly becoming one of my favorite video directors.

K'NAAN "T.I.A" music video directed by: NABIL from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

Ha... Look at that Elephant Blue Detergent commercial at the beginning: You can still see the little scroll at the bottom that shows it was ripped from this YouTube video:

I ain't mad at him, though. I actually did the same thing (in a clip you might be seeing soon).

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Are you ready for Okwedy?

Been super, super busy, fam... But keep checking in; things will be back to normal in a little bit, I think.

For now, here's a little something from the always curiously female-voiced Eddie Okwedy. It's kind of interesting the way a lot of post-war Igbo highlife had that really sweet, mellow tone to it; someone told me it was because they were really trying to cool down after the horror.

Ifeanyi Eddie Okwedy & His Maymores Dance Band - "Rapunu Anyi"
Ifeanyi Eddie Okwedy & His Maymores Dance Band - "Akwa C.T. Onyekwelu"

Friday, April 17, 2009

NTIA (A belated realization)

A few months ago over on Likembe, John B. posted a few selections from Rusted Highlife Vol. 1, a compilation of forgotten highlife classics released by Mossaic Music.

While there's no doubt that Rusted Highlife Vol. 1 is a truly sublime collection of music, its annotations were perhaps a bit questionable. As John noted, the recording "Ima Abasi," attributed on the disc to Calabar musician Kingsley Burstic Bassey, is the exact version of the song from the Ghana classic Hit Sound of the Ramblers Dance Band LP. Similarly, "Abisi Do," which is listed as being by "Demmy Bassey" is identical to "Abasi Do," which appears on Golden Highlife Classics by King Bruce & the Black Beats, with composition credited to "Len Bassey."

Two tracks that really stood out to me, though, were "Solo Hit (Nwaocholonwu)" and "Mme Yedi," credited to B.E. Batta & Eastern Stars Dance Band and featuring a singer identified as "Emmanuel Vita."

B.E. Batta & Eastern Stars Dance Band - Mme Yedi
B.E. Batta & Eastern Stars Dance Band - Solo Hit (Nwaocholonwu)

Both songs rang faint but insistent bells in my head, though I couldn't figure out where I knew them from. The title "Solo Hit" in particular seemed like something I had encountered fairly recently, and not in connection with Orlando Julius Ekemode's 1967 souled-out version of the song:

Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces - "Solo Hit (Instrumental)"

Then, just the other night, it hit me.

Sometime last year, when I was looking for some info on Kingsley Burstic Bassey, I came across this article paying tribute to some of the forgotten highlife legends from Rivers State ("New Calabar") and Cross River State ("Old Calabar"). The unidentified author describes watching a young highlife band playing at a bash presided over by former Cross River State governor Donald Duke and current governor Liyel Imoke:
Somewhere along the imitative repertoire of the band, they broke into an up-tempo highlife tune, which: started with a vivacious and vigorous guitar riff. Quite expectedly, this generated palpable excitement as everyone including Duke and Imoke was nodding and/or swinging to the compelling rhythm of the tune. Even Domenico Gitto, the Italian Managing Director of the contracting firm, swung to the successful beat. As for me, I lost my cool momentarily, sprang to my feet and spun around a couple of times to the enchanted amazement of my colleagues in Gitto and the rest of the audience.

When the event ended and only the lesser mortals were left to tidy up the venue, I approached the lead singer of the band and challenged him to a four-point quiz with each question attracting a prize tag of five hundred Naira. Expectedly, he acquiesced; after all, he had two thousand Naira to gain and absolutely nothing to lose since the gamble was one-sided-it was mine.

Question: What is the title of the song that caused so much excitement?

Answer: Solo Hit

Question: Who sang it?

Answer: Emmanuel Ntia

Question: In what language was it sung?

Answer: Fish language

Question: What is on the flipside?

Answer: Meyedi.

Amazing! Though I lost two thousand Naira, I couldn’t be happier especially given the fact that this young man, was in his early twenties knew such details of a song that was released more than forty years ago. Of the accurate answers, the one that impressed me most was the language of the song, which, for me, is still as much a mystery as it was in the sixties. Fish language?! Whatever that means! But it came out right on the delivery and So Hit was a smash sensation on the highlife scene in the sixties.

Of course... "Emmanuel Vita" is Emmanuel Ntia. When I was a kid, he was regarded as one of the great highlife legends of Cross River State. (He comes from Abak, which is now in Akwa Ibom State.) His song "Ke Nsede Nasiaye Ufien," along with "Solo Hit" and "Mme Yedi" were played all the time wherever two or three older folks were gathered, and I went to school with one of his nephews. Emmanuel Ntia is still alive (see him pictured below with his wife and one of his sons) and still playing that good dance band music.

I'm posting up the Ekpo LP from 1975, which I think is fairly representative of the repertoire of many highlife dance bands in the 1970s, especially in places like Calabar and Ghana: old-style highlife numbers, with an increasing influence of "souls." (I just love saying that, "souls"... I like the way the old highlife guys tend to pronounce it as a plural.)

(Now if I could just find out something more about B.E. Batta...)


1. Ekpo
2. Ke Nsede Nasiaye Ufien
3. Kot Ndito Abasi
4. Iyedara

1. Nya Ekpo
2. I Need Some One
3. Good Bye
4. By The Same Side


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I went to high school at Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, one of the prestigious "unity schools" established from 1970 onwards by the decree of then-head of state Yakubu Gowon. The idea was to install in every region of Nigeria top-quality, federally-funded secondary institutions where the student body and the staff were drawn by quota from every corner of the country, familiarizing Nigeria's youth with one another and facilitating national reunification after the ethnical and religious polarization of the civil war of '67-70. Pro unitate ("towards unity") was the motto.

When I started in the mid-80s, there were two unity schools--a Federal Government Girls' College and a coed Federal Government College--located in each of Nigeria's 19 states. (The hallowed King's College and Queen's College in Lagos were absorbed as honorary members of the Federal Government College system even though their existence pre-dated the unity schools initiative by 61 and 43 years respectively.)

Looking back, I think I really took it for granted: I went to a Federal Government College because I was considered a bright kid, and gaining admission to one of the highly-competitive FGCs was what bright kids were expected to do. Yes, I was quite aware how much hipper than the local "state schools" the federal schools were perceived to be, but I didn't think it was that much of a big deal. But now, when I talk to my peers who went to state schools--many of whom never really had the chance to leave their region of origin or socialize with people from other parts of the country--and I observe how relatively provincial and ethnocentric they are in their worldview, I realize what a blessing the unity school system was and I am tremendously grateful to General Gowon for his vision and statesmanship.

As a young music lover, one advantage of FGCs I recognized even then was the opportunity to be apprised of the sounds rocking in other parts of the country. I lived in the small and "dry" Eastern town of Calabar, which seemed perpetually a few steps behind "bubbling" metropolises like Lagos and Port Harcourt, so whenever we came back from the holidays, my school friends would fill me in on the latest music happening in their sections. Likewise, I would turn them on to the latest tunes from the East that had not yet spread to other parts of the country (if at all they ever did). But more or less, we all listened to the same kind of music even if we heard it at different times.

As the 80s wore on, though, I noticed that the music tastes of my friends from Lagos and other parts of Western Nigeria were changing a bit, moving towards more Yoruba-centric styles. Juju--which had up until this time had been regarded as music for our parents' generation--had started to retool itself to appeal to a younger audience, spearheaded by the likes of Sir Shina Peters and Segun Adewale. And then you had newer Yoruba street styles like fuji fiercely competing with the juju new wave for the imaginations and backsides of the Lagos youth.

This music--with its Yoruba lyrics, cosmopolitan opulence, frantic percussion and vague aroma of Islam--really did not play in Eastern Nigeria at all. The Lagosians would dance and sing these songs to each other, delighting in them like untranslatable Yoruba in-jokes.

Slightly more accessible to non-Lagosians like myself were the other emerging forms of Yoruba pop that built around the familiar structure of R&B, funk, rock and reggae; the most popular of these mutant forms was Adewale Ayuba's "Yo-pop." Another was "fujupop"--which melded fuji and juju with a modern pop sensibility. The style was created by a young singer named Bola Bimbola, who originally dubbed it "danfo beat" (after the danfo bus--the rickety vans that serve as public transportation in the streets of Lagos) when he debuted with a Yoruba-language version of "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."

At the time, the record was appealing mostly on a novelty level--maybe a step or two above a parody--but listening to it now, I'd say it's quite brilliant in the way it retrofits the song with fuji percussion while maintaining the integrity of the Michael's original. (The sonic excellence of Bimbo's debut LP is unsurprising, considering the fact that it sports the typically baroque credit "Production, Concept and Music Arrangement by Sound Master Odion Iruoje.)

Bola Bimbola (now known as Bola Abimbola) went on to join King Sunny Ade's African Beats for a while and has been based for the past couple of years in Denver, Colorado where he leads his Wazobia band and continues to work with other artists both in the US and in Nigeria.

You'll notice that the Wikipedia page linked above makes no mention of his 1987 debut. His currently offline website, Fujupop dot com did, however... Though for some reason it described his English-language cover of "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" as a duet with Linda Ronstadt!

Oh yeah... That's another thing: The sleeve lists "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" as "Off The Wall," which is of course the title of the Michael Jackson album the song appeared on. It also credits "Silifa Bamijo" as a cover of "Fever Bobijo," which is actually "Viva Bobby Joe" by The Equals.

(Just in case you're wondering, the unity schools are mostly rubbish now. Even back in my day, the government was already complaining that 38 FGCs in 19 states exerted too much of a drain on federal resources and was considering turning over the responsibility for the schools' maintenance to the governments of the respective states they were located in. Twenty-odd years later, Nigeria's 19 states have multiplied hydra-like to 36, with yet more tribally-cartographed states agitating to splinter off. With two FGCs in each one, it looks like the federal government has just stopped caring; the schools have fallen into disrepair structurally and educationally and become as provincial as the state schools they were supposed to be an improvement over. I don't know if they even still hold the cachet of prestige they used to; it seems like regional private schools are the place to be now.

Oh well... 'Twas a noble experiment from which I and many others benefited immeasurably.)


1. Sumomi Famomi (Off The Wall Yoruba Version)
2. Silifa Bamijo
3. Eleda Mi Gbemi
4. Mama

1. Olorun Mi Ye
2. Off The Wall (English Version)
3. Afrika
4. Don't Say No When You Mean To Say Yes


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Naija country mix #2

Found myself hankering for some country sounds, and since we all enjoyed the last Naija Sounds in Country & Western Music mix, I decided to throw together a sequel. Behold the track listing:

1. "Darling" - Felix Lebarty
2. "Angie" - Esbee Family
3. "It's Not Easy" - Emma Ogosi
4. "Bright Eyes" - Jonel Cross
5. "Show a Little Bit of Kindness" - Christy Essien-Igbokwe
6. "Sometime, Someday" - Al Jackson
7. "Be In Your Arms" - Poor Charley Akaa
8. "Dark as a Dungeon" - Gnonnas Pedro

(You'll notice that despite the established theme, I included one non-Nigerian artist; I had to sneak Gnonnas Pedro across the border from République du Bénin because I love his rendition of "Dark as a Dungeon" that damn much.)

DOWNLOAD Naija to Nashville

(EDIT: Okay... Let's see if this works now...)

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Bongos

And like the last Bongos LP I posted, it's a bit rough. What can I say? Bongos' music was and is THAT adored in Nigeria--his records are played till the grooves fall off!

(I think I have a better-condition copy of this album somewhere but I really cannot find it right now, so I guess we can all tolerate the Rice Krispies SFX a bit, right?)

This 1980 outing finds Ikwue at the height of his mainstream popularity. Still riding high on the monster wave of goodwill generated by his 1978 Still Searching LP, a supremely confident Bongos tries out a few different musical flavors: a touch of soul, a little funk, calypso, and even old-school, Ray Charles-influenced R&B.

(The album's most memorable hit was "Mariama"--later the subject of scandal when the rumor spread that it was about First Lady Maryam Babangida in the mid-80s.)

Tear Drops would be one of Ikwue's last notable successes, though; the following year he released the classic soundtrack to the TV drama Cock Crow at Dawn and thereafter faded from the limelight. His next album, 1983's Songs I Like to Sing, barely registered on the public radar despite production from Jake Sollo and would be his last release of the 1980s (unless I'm mistaken, that was his last release, period).

Bongos has been on the comeback trail over the past couple of months though, and not surprisingly, he has been re-embraced warmly. Just as I was preparing this entry, I came across this article on Ikwue as a figure of pride and inspiration for the Idoma people. It made me think maybe I should have posted Bongos' album of Idoma-language folk songs, Ihotu, instead. I'm pretty sure I have a NM copy of that one.

Maybe later in the week.


1. Never Say Never Again
2. Tear Drops
3. I've Found A Woman

3. Love My Girl
4. Mariama
5. So Far So Good


Friday, April 10, 2009

What Am I To Do?

After last week's sustained surge of posting, I just had to drop the ball this week, didn't I?

I think I shall give the "every other day" update schedule a shot starting next week; that should be a pace that maintains the interest level around here without me completely blowing my wad.

Just so that this week is not a total waste, though, here's that Odion-produced, eponymous Bongos LP that quite a few people have requested... I warn you: It's a bit rough going. I always feel a bit embarrassed when I post records in this condition, but whaddaya gonna do? This is the business we're in; it's not like we're buying these things at Shoprite or something.


1. No More Water in the Well
2. Show Me The Man Who Don't Need a Woman

1. Baby Let Me Go
2. Sitting On The Beach
3. What Am I To Do


Thursday, April 02, 2009

More Edo rock n' highlife

I don't know if it's a matter of Victor Uwaifo leading and everybody else following, or if it was just something in the air around Benin in those days, because it seems like a disproportionate number of these Edo guys were just coming with that revival-style, rock n' soul-inflected, get-down-and-dirty dance party highlife that Uwaifo had on lock in the 1970s.

This LP was fully composed, arranged, and produced by Douglas Osakwe himself. Wish I knew something about him; the name is familiar to me, but I might just be confusing him with someone I went to school with.

Ah well... Just groove to this, willya?


1. Aganokpe
2. Enyi Jen Enyi Eru-Olo

1. Eboigbe
2. Okwunwene


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Who says a highlife band can't play rock?!

Well, not "rock" in the balls-out, yeh! yeh! yeh! sense--you'll find no searing solos here, no raucous drumming, no ecstatic abandon; but with its butter-rich production (courtesy of the late, great Biddy Wright), Johnny Woode's groovy organ lines and Godwin Ironbar's soulful vocal delivery, the album does represent an attempt to bridge the gulf between the old-school highlife orchestras and the youth-driven Western pop music that had enthralled the kids' imaginations in the post-war era.

The always-tasteful Biddy Wright was an apt choice to shepherd a project such as this, having been well familiar with both worlds--he led the beloved Lagos highlife dance band Wura Fadaka in the 1960s and then rocked out with Ronnie Laine of The Faces in the 70s. Ironbar himself is credited as writer, arranger, lead vocalist, guitar soloist and conductor of the fine cadre of musicians on this record. He sounds a bit Victor Uwaifo-inlfuenced to me, but maybe that's just because they both sing in the Edo language and embrace soul music accents in their highlife.

If I recall, several tracks from this record (along with Jackie Mittoo rock steady instrumentals) were frequently used as theme and interstitial music on NTA stations in the 1970s and 80s, especially "Ukpona Mie" and the "Let's Get It On"-citing "Okpenobodi."

(This is another VG+ record that's sounding a bit weird when ripped... I wonder if it's time for me to replace my stylus or something. I'll have to look into that... Let me know if it bugs you any and I might try ripping it again later.)


1. Ukpona Mie
2. Okpa Do
3. A Ti Se

1. Okpenobodi
2. Izenegbonta
3. Ovbiogwe


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Otarus again.

As I've said before, I love it when readers chip in around here. Our friend Melvyn was kind enough to share with us the very much in-demand sophomore album from the Otarus Brothers Band! And it sounds great!

So if you dig it, drop a comment and say thanks to Melvyn!


1. Eminerume
2. Okuanibo
3. Emanuregbe
4. Ihagbene Iteyowa
5. Agbonita
6. Aigbomo Nomo

1. Omohupa
2. Afemai Nasoma
3. Pack & Go
4. Amuwa
5. Adenomo


Monday, March 30, 2009

Wise men bank with UBO

(Title being an eminently lame pun referring to this immortal jingle.)

UMUKEGWU BOYS OPINION with headquarters headquarters [sic] in AKOKWA, IDEATO L.G.A. of IMO STATE is an organisation of budding and enterprising young men formed in 1974 to cater for the general welfare of its members and the community at large: In addition to their concerted efforts to promote development projects, the Boys Opinion launched their UBO JAZZ BAND in 1978 to put people in relaxed moods, while pursuing their set objectives. Though they are no professional musicians, they still found time to make this album you are now holding - a testimony of their creativeness and dynamism.

OHAIGIRI SOCIAL CLUB also with headquarters in AKOKWA, IDEATO, Imo State is a noble organisation promoting the peoples cultural and social aspirations. Membership is countryside and development achievements diverse. Easily one of the most honourable Social Clubs around - hear UBO Jazz Band confirm this.

On the real, I could have told you they were not professional musicians just by listening to them. Not that they don't play well--no, they're more than competent enough; it's just that they don't seem to have a really distinctive voice. It's Igbo guitar band highlife-by-the-numbers and a bit derivative of Osadebe and some other stuff, but it's still a pretty good listen, I think.


1. Ome Njo Kwusiya
2. K'anyi Bili N'udo

1. Ohaigiri Special


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Suku Suku System

George Iboroma--was one of the most popular proponents of 1970s dance band highlife--well, in Eastern Nigeria, anyway.

I still remember this particular record shaking up the grownups' parties even in the 1980s, when I was coming up. But even if I had forgotten how much play Iboroma's suku suku suku libi libi laba laba sound got, I need only look at my copy of the record, on which the grooves are worn clear through.

Listener beware: Skips and noise aplenty on this one. I regret I had to use the noise removal tool, adding some distortion too. And then the third track--one of the sweetest on the album--was so damaged that I had to leave it off altogether.

I'd usually not share a record in this state, but you can barely find a mention of George Iboroma online let alone any of this music, and I think he should be represented out there.

So until I can find more, this is what we've got.

This album is a two-fer; Side 2 features some Igbo highlife from The Young Timers Dance Band led by Helen WIlliams, one of the few woman highlife bandleaders I can think of.

(We'll hear some more from her later, and in better condition, too!)


1. Philip Leonda
2. Sobra Suapri
3. Ina Bala Na


1. Di Dim Uko
2. Amachie Uwa George
3. Amam Onye Mmadighi Mma