ahmed janka nabay, the king of bubu music

11 Dec

this one just hit my radar and it’s got me under a spell. ahmed janka nabay

early this year released a four song ep on True Panther called Bubu King. nabay performed this past summer at Le Poisson Rouge (you can listen to here) and WNYC has it streaming as part of their wonderful No Cover. here’s what WNYC wrote about nabay:

The Facts: Ahmed Janka Nabay is a bandleader from Freetown, Sierra Leone of Mandingo and Timini descent who is considered the “King of Bubu Music.” Janka has sold thousands of cassettes in his native country and played with an 11-piece band before his country’s brutal civil war put his life in jeopardy. He fled from war to Philadelphia in the late-’90s before landing recently in New York City.

The Sound: In the mid-’90s, Janka helped resuscitate a Sierra Leone indigenous folk music called “Bubu” that he heard as a young boy at his family feasts. Traditionally played on bamboo shoots, pipes, shakers, triangles, and large wooden boxes, Janka updated Bubu’s sound with synthesizers, drum machines, brisk dance beats and socially conscious lyrics (listen for the “John Kennedy” references on “Eh Congo”). The sound recalls elements of Haitian rah-rah, Detroit Techno and Brazilian Baille Funk. At Le Poisson Rouge, he debuted his seven-piece band which helped bring to life the music from his excellent 2010 “Bubu King” E.P.– the first ever Bubu album released in the west.

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