Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Farofa, a meal composed of cassava flour toasted in fat or grease, is a staple food in Brazil. It is also the name of a musical movement launched in the 1970s by the Nigerian musician known as Eppi Fanio.

Fanio never really achieved major fame outside of western Nigeria, and even there his dance troupe, the Farofa Dancers, were probably more acclaimed than the music that guided their spectacular gyrations. For a while, though, Fanio seemed determined to establish Farofa as a musical brand that would be every bit as revolutionary and inextricably associated himself as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's afrobeat.

This intention was made clear in the sleeve notes of Fanio's 1975 debut, penned by producer Odion Iruoje:
For some time, it seems that the popular music of the west Coast of Africa has been in the doldrums. Apart from Afro-beat which came into being since 1965 and some occasional Afro-rock hits, nothing seems to be forth-coming by way of another original African popular music. This record has been produced to fill that gap.

By successfully blending authentic African rhythm, played by the natives themselves, with some other musical influences, EPPI FANIO has created an Afro-folksy beat music which, at the same time, is appealing to both jazz and classical music enthusiasts.

With an approach as fresh as this combined with innate creativity and solid musical background, we can be sure that EPPI FANIO is going to be with us for a long time and "FAROFA" is the beginning of his beginning.

(Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that Iruoje would be so dismissive of the music of the first half of the 1970s, considering all the amazing, vital records that he himself produced during this period.)

The Farofa sound never really caught on the way it was hoped to, though. Part of the problem (in this writer's opinion) lay in the fact that it was hard to figure out exactly what it was--initially it seemed to be Yoruba folkloric music draped over afro-rock underpinnings furnished by musicians like BLO's Berkley Ike Jones and Ken Okulolo of Monomono; later Fanio turned a bit more towards melding his folksy melodies with disco, then funk and boogie and whatever else was the big sound of the day.

Another problem was Fanio's apparent mild-mannered musical presence. It takes a BIG personality to single-handedly establish a musical brand and the humble, retiring Fanio never really exuded that on record. He has, however, remained an industrious and articulate figure in the music scene and commanded respect amongst of his peers as the president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigerian for a period during the late 1990s.

Here are two tracks from the 1975 LP Farofa. The lead vocals on "Here's My Love" are performed by Eric Kol, then freshly late of The Immortals.

Eppi Fanio - "Here's My Love"
Eppi Fanio - "Ikoko Ti Yio Jata" (On Perseverence)"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lagos City Transport

MsMak requested this one yesterday.

As has been previously established, Nigeria had long been one of the world's most important markets for reggae music, and by the mid-80s reggae was the chief indigenous genre, largely displacing styles like funk, R&B and even highlife.

While most of the reggae artists of this period were rootsmen in the Marley-Tosh mold, there was also a slightly younger generation of raggamuffins who gravitated more towards the more current dancehall style then known as "rub-a-dub" and microphone heroes such as Frankie Paul, U-Roy, Eek-a-Mouse, Barrington Levy and especially Yellowman.

Too Low For Zero (or TLZ) were among the earliest exponents of this style to blow up in Nigeria and were significant for their integration of the "fast-chat" style made famous by UK dancehall MCs like Smiley Culture and Asher Senator. The big hit from their 1987 debut Emergency, was "Molue," a tribute to Lagos city's ubiquitous cadmium yellow sardine-can public buses.

(Man... A bus ride really was 20 kobo back then. That's crazy!)

Too Low For Zero - "Molue"
Too Low For Zero - "Cool Stylie"

(I had to dig pretty deep for this one, so I apologize if it's kind of rough on "Molue.")

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're back! (In other news: Jake Sollo still awesome.)

Technical problems kept us away for a minute, fam... You might have noticed that none of the links on this blog were working for a while there.

Well, the issues with the server have been resolved and we're back in business... And to kick things off, here's a little Jake Sollo mix I threw together this morning:

Oh Remember Me: Tribute to Jake Sollo

Track list:

1. "Let Love Begin" - Galaxy
2. "Close to Me" - Tom Youms
3. "My Best Friend's Girl" - Jake Sollo (feat. Morris Michael)
4. "No One Can Stop Us Now" - Jide Obi
5. "Cheerful Giver" - Esbee Family
6. "Love in My Heart" - The Mandators
7. "My Star Will Shine" - Julius Martins
8. "Love Everlasting" - Chris Mba
9. "Oh Remember Me" - Ken Eme/1st Flight
10. "Boats Without a Hope" - Jake Sollo
11. "I Want a Break Thru'" - The Hykkers
12. "404" - Jake Sollo
13. "Weebo-Me Weebo" - Jake Sollo

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba (1932-2008)

So I wake up this morning and we've lost another legend of African music... And I mean, one of the titans.

Over the years, the continent has produced scores ofincredible musicians who have represented her admirably on the world stage, but ask me and I'll tell you that on a macro scale, there are probably only three true game-changers, three whose influence effected a paradigm shift in the way (sub-Saharan) African pop music is perceived universally: Miriam Makeba, Franco Luambo Makiadi, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

None of them left standing.

ROME (AFP) — South African singer Miriam Makeba has died aged 76 after being taken ill near the southern Italian town of Caserta following a concert, ANSA news agency reported Monday.

She died overnight after taking part in a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia, the Italian agency said.

Miriam Makeba, known as "Mama Africa", was the legendary voice of the African continent who became a symbol of the fight against apartheid in her home country.

She died just after having sung for half an hour for the young author of "Gomorrah" at Castel Volturno near Naples along with other singers and artistes.

She was taken ill and was quickly taken to a clinic in Castel Volturno where she died of a heart attack, ANSA said.

Miriam Makeba was born in Johannesburg on March 4, 1932. She made an international farewell tour in 2005.

Born from a Swazi mother and Xhosa father, Makeba captured international attention as vocalist for the South African group, The Manhattan Brothers, while they toured the United States in 1959.

The following year, when she wanted to return home to bury her mother, the apartheid state revoked her citizenship and later also banned her music. As a result she spent 31 years in exile, living in the United States and later in Guinea.

She became the first black African woman to receive a Grammy Award which she shared with folk singer Harry Belafonte in 1965.

Two years later her fame sky-rocketed with the recording of the all-time hit "Pata Pata" (Xhosa for "touch, touch" describing a township dance) although she unknowingly signed away all royalties on the song.

She hit an all-time low in 1985 when her only daughter, Bongi, died aged 36 from complications from a miscarriage. Makeba did not have money to buy a coffin for Bongi, and buried her alone barring a handful of journalists covering the funeral.

But she picked herself up again, as she did many times before, like when her father died at a young age, or when she recovered from cervix cancer, or her many unhappy relationships, or unfounded rumours of alcoholism, according to her biography.

She returned to South Africa in the 1990s after Mandela was released from prison but it took a cash-strapped Makeba six years to find someone in the local recording industry to produce a record with her.

She since released "Homeland" which contains a song describing her joy to be back home after the many years in exile in which she spoke out against apartheid and testified twice before the United Nations.

"I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa and the people without even realising," she said in her biography.

That was a Swedish TV performance of "Khawuleza" from 1966.

I'll try to put up a fuller memorial a little later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dr. Orlando Owoh (1934-2008)

Orlando Owoh dies at 74

The legend of Kennery highlife music, Dr. Orlando Owoh on Tuesday passed on at 74, report. Victor Akande and Dare Akindehin

Legend of Kennery highlife music Dr. Orlando Owoh is dead.

The musician died on Tuesday at the General Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos where he had since been on admission, following a long illness associated with stroke. He was 74.

Born as Stephen Oladipupo Olaore Owomoyela, the Kennery Music king, was until his illness and eventual death, the toast of highlife lovers, owing to his romantic voice, philosophical lyrics and energetic stage performances.

Members of the arts community have expressed sadness over the loss of the man they describe as a rare gem.

A cultural activist and Editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Anikulapo said the sad news got to him while celebrating the landslide victory of Barack Obama, the US president-elect.

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday expressed shock at the sudden death of Orlando.

Fashola, in a condolence letter to the widow, Shade, described him as an exceptional human being whose musical talents remained unrivalled till the very end.

He said: "The passage of Dr. Orlando Owoh, as he was popularly known, at this time has left a big vacuum which would be very difficult to fill".

Fashola said with a brand of music which was inimitable, Dr Owoh departed with fond memories of his very rich contributions to national development through his strong messages against socio-cultural and political ills.

Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel described Owoh’s death as "unfortunate".

He spoke yesterday through the Chairman, Ijebu East Local Government Area, Hon. Tunde Oladunjoye, who visited the late musician’s family to deliver Daniel’s condolence message. Oladunjoye said:"The death of the highlife musician is a colossal loss to the arts and culture community because he was an embodiment of talent; a composer, guitarist, producer and multi-talented instrumentalist."

Oladunjoye, who was Management Adviser to the late musician’s recording label, Owoh Records, said he would be remembered for his unique sonorous voice that earned him the title Kennery."

He prayed God to grant his family, friends, fans and admirers the fortitude to bear the loss.

Born 74 years ago at Osogbo in Osun State to Jeremiah and Morenike Owomoyela, originally from Ifon town in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State, Orlando became a musician at 12, despite opposition from his parents. He had left Osogbo for Ilesha, in pursuit of better life prospects immediately he completed his eight-year apprenticeship under his father.

Armed with a Standard Six certificate, he returned to Osogbo where his budding musical talent caught the attention of renowned artiste, Kola Ogunmola who eventually invited him to Ibadan in preparation for the First All African Games in Dakar.

He established his called Orlando Owoh and his Omimah Band in 1958.

His journey to stardom began with his debut album in 1960 under Decca Records. The first album, Oluwa Lo Ran Mi was followed by another successful one; Alantere Ijo Oyege. This album put him on a better footing.

His music, a fusion of highlife and juju, has recorded over 45 albums, including titles like: Ganja I and II, Dele Giwa and Money for Hand Back for Ground, Jobs Experience, Logba-Logba, Kangaroo, Iyawo Olele, Money palaver, Tribute to Fela, among others.

Orlando Owoh & his Young Kenneries - "Easter Special/Baba Wa Silekin/Obinrin Asiko Lagbo"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hail to the Chief

Look, I'm not one of those people who thinks the world's gonna change overnight, but it still is history, ain't it?

Besides, it gives me the excuse to post this totally sweet, bluesy afrobeat from my man Cody:

Cody ChesnuTT - "Afrobama"

EDIT: Okay, I was able to fix the problem with Dreamhost, so we've got a proper (as in "non-Zshare) link now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Made in Nigeria" Part 7 is up on Boogieheads Radio!

Soundzzzzz of the 80s... And this time, it's a special guest mix by yours truly.

(I apologize for the slightly ropey production... I had some soft- and hardware issues to contend with.)

Check it out
Click here to listen

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well, I'll be...

Back in this post, I wrote:

I remember seeing [Martha Ulaeto] on TV singing "Everlasting" and "Ije Lovu" surrounded by a bunch of dancing kids, looking like a sexy music teacher. I begged my mom to buy me a music magazine that had an article about her in it (I can't remember what the magazine was called but I do recall that the cover of that particular issue featured Eddy Grant wearing an uncomfortably tight pair of football shorts).*

Today, our friend Zim sent me this:

Me and my mates used to devour Africa Music whenever it came out, trading issues and reading them over and over until they disintegrated into pulp. Most of the material I write on this blog is based almost completely on my memories of stuff I read in this magazine when I was eight, nine, ten.

Re-reading them now, I'm actually kind of impressed with myself for how well I've remembered it all. (Even though I could not for some reason remember the name of the magazine.)

Thanks, Zim!

*It seems that Eddie's shorts aren't quite as tight as I remember them being, but you can still pretty much see his junk.**

**Come to think of it, why did that particular detail even persist in my memory? >sigh<