MAKE AFRICA GREAT AGAIN

Seun Kuti

Disclaimer : Article free of any form of propaganda.

Previously in a realm of AudioInferno, your humble servant wrote an awesome article about the perspectives of rock music from the angle of an African sonic reinvention of the genre, he (your humble servant) decided to push this reflexion further.

What if rock could be a vector of African culture worldwide ?

I think that the best way (or at least one of the way) to spread rock music not only in our continent, among the neophytes masses, but also worldwide, is to really « africanize » music, not only by fusing incorporating african rhythms with rock elements (I’m playing the delightful collaboration of the Afrobeat star Seun Kuti with the rock maestro Carlos Santana while typing this epistle) but also by incorporating topics and even visual aesthetics rooted in African culture, to create a full and coherent African Rock who will goes beyond the simple « proof of concept ».

When we study the evolution of rock music from its first inceptions to now, we notice that several cultural and philosophical appropriated the genre to create a regional scene. I will limit my illustration only to the American and Japanese scenes

In the seminal country of rock and roll, the United States, some rock bands which wants to foster American traditions and values in their sound, emphasized the rhythm and blues roots of rock-n-roll and blends country, folk, bluegrass and various traditional American rhythms with rock to create a specific « branch » of rock music called Americana music with its derivatives (especially southern rock, roots rock) which are American trademark of rock music. Other American Artists chose to focus their lyrics on the depiction of the American society, its trouble and its values. Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Mayer or even the Killers, who dabbled occasionally with heartland rock, still experiment to various success in America nowadays, despite rock’s relative decline.

Same can be noticed in the Japanese rock scene. While heavily influenced by the British and American rock and punk sounds and icons like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or the Sex Pistols, the Japanese rock music began to differentiate themselves, at least visually, with the emergence of the visual-kei movement in the early 80’s, characterized by flashy Japanese street fashions. Most of those bands also began to sing primarily in Japanese or began to mix Japanese with English. Nowadays, kawaii metal, which fuses the Japanese idol aesthetics with the heavy metal sound, rose to international prominence courtesy of the band which pioneered it, BABYMETAL.

So like the Americans and Japanese scene, Africans should use transform rock to distinguish themselves by selling their culture, history, heritage to their populations first and then to the world.  Rock music can/should be turned into an instrument of soft power and self-valorization of Africa, besides the obvious entertainment purpose. I think that bands should sport more traditional clothes when performing the way Beyoncé sported African wax during her various appearances or even like the Grammy-awarded Malian rock band sported Tuareg clothes back in the times during their Grammy performance, introducing their sound and fashion style to a massive international audience. African rock bands should be self-aware of their incredible legacy and exploit it to proudly to be a credible alternative to the omnipresent western rock scene.

 

Warm thanks to Tim Salter for his precious enlightenment.

Jay

Le Jay Moqueur, condescending geek and diehard Nintendo fanboy who loves playing Mario games while listening to crude garage rock (Yeah, both are compatible). Mainly deals with LinkedIn for work and reddit for the rest.

2

  1. Interesting. But I think rock should be played just for the sake of rock. African bands shouldn’t go out of their way to make “African” rock. I think the fact that an African is playing rock music automatically makes it “African rock”

  2. Hail african metalheads.
    This site is amazingly cool.
    You should have no Problem at all as rock / metal musicians.
    Rock / Metal was born by the BLUES of black guitarists.
    You are the root of all this rock n metal sonic fun.
    It is time for you to show and stand up, and you do well so far.
    You are also very brave men and women doing the metal in a dangerous Environment.
    Music is the true language everyone understands, because it reaches your very Soul.
    We are the metal Scene. We have the power to bring the old Forces of evil down forever.

    Adam W.Eishaupt / Guitar & Vox / Disörder

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