A car without music? It is simply unimaginable! A car has to have music. At least, that is the norm. Africans love music and excitement everywhere, even in public transport. In Kenya for example, public service vehicle owners compete to install the best music systems in buses! For the young and trendy, it is not a wonder to find them investing in entertainment systems that are half as expensive as their auto. That is the trend in the urban centers in Africa and it is not changing any time soon. However, have you ever wondered what the kind of music you play in your car says about you?
Artists are the mirrors of the society, so they say. And in deed this is to some extent the gospel truth. Musicians present the situations on the ground in the society, promote the virtues (or so is supposed to be the case) economically and socially, and most importantly providing guidance and regulation on the practice of the people’s culture. Honestly, African musicians have acted as the governors of our invaluable identity and culture during these times of accelerated erosion. But the music you play and listen to is also a mirror of your inner self. It tells more stories than what normally may meet the eye on just a mere sight. For instance, it could tell where you hail from, your orientation and other aspects.
The competing styles
A fact is that the African music shares a common hub. The African beat is noticeably unique. The difference comes in the combination of instruments employed in the composition of the melodies. The South African style, West African style, Eastern and central styles all share a common root-African Benga. Only names and regions of influence might differ.
Lingala is unarguably the most influential music in Africa, for covering the most populous section of the continent from the DRC, Nigeria Cameroun, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya and the wider East Africa. The influence of this music is also felt in the northern, western, and Southern parts of the continent. Some of the sub categories of this music include the Sookous, Ndombolo and kwassakwassa. The leading icons of this music, which started in the 40’s and 50’s include Kofi Olomide, Kanda Bongoman, MbiliaBel, AwiloLongomba,SamMangwana, Franco LuamboMakiadi, Dr.NicoKasanda, TabuLey Rochereau and others.Tabu Ley and Dr.Kasanda are considered the fathers of the modern day sokous brand of music.
West African music is dominated by the Djembe and the talking drums. This music cuts across, Ghana, Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali and others. Superstars advancing this music are led by the famous FelaAnikulapoKuti and others.
Miriam Makeba….Yvonne Chaka Chaka..
These have been leading the music from the south. Miriam led not only South Africa, but also the whole of the continent in branding the African music by marketing it across the Atlantic in United States, and the Latin America. Her super hits such as ‘patapata’ and ‘aluta continua’ were game changers for the African music landscape. Even with her passing away, the South African music still thrives through others who have risen to worldwide fame such as Yvonne. Her ‘I am burning up’, ‘umqombothi’ and ‘Let him go’ songs were hits all over Africa and beyond. The South African music cannot be summed up without the mention of the legendary Lucky Dube. This guy is the icon of Reggae music in Africa today, and for years to come.
A combination of these African music styles and others such as ‘the roots’ and the American ‘Country music’ could be an indicator of conservative nature. However, of late, other styles such as the Jamaican ‘riddims’ and American hip hop are taking center stage and exacting a lot of influence in Africa.
So, what music do you play in your car? The upcoming and foreign styles, the Central and Eastern African Lingala, the South African styles, the West African style, Reggae or the American country music? Rest assured that they send a message about you!