Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sierra Leone's King of Bubu

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang, Saadi and Brenmar
Friday, January 14, 2011
7:30 PM 18+

African music, by co-opting aspects of electronica, hip-hop and reggae, is finally making some headway in the West, but the sounds by Ahmed Janka Nabay are more predecessor than Afro-pop pastiche. Nabay created his style in Freetown during the Sierra Leonean civil war, moderinizing the traditional style of bubu (normally played by large wind ensembles) with Western instrumentation rather than aesthetics, namely an old school digital keyboard that he plays alongside bamboo shoots and carburetor pipes. As a war refuser, he uses his lyrics promote humanitarianism, pacifism and feminism using a combination of English and Krio, sung in nimble West African harmonies, chants and falsettos.

During the war, rebels made use of his music to lure captives, and even forced Nabay to perform under duress. The pan-West African ECOMOG coalition, in turn, suspected him of siding with the rebels and nearly gunned him down. He fled to Philadelphia in the 90's, working at a Crown Fried Chicken as he grew a cult following in the US. In 2010, he moved to New York City to focus on music, and formed Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang featuring members of Gang Gang Dance, Skeletons, Starring and Zs.

While the most prominent rhythmic passages of Boshra AlSaadi's are strictly reggae, her harmonic sensibility is influenced by a variety of sources, be they melodramatic pop or folk rock. Her concise arrangements allow for the textures in her production to shine through, as well as her silky voice and evocative lyrics. She has collaborated with the likes of Lemonade, Pupa Bajah (Dry Eye Crew) and Janka Nabay.

A Brooklynite by way of Chicago, Brenmar produces tracks of percussive house jams inflected by hip-hop, R&B, pop and bounce. XLR8R drafted him for an official podcast and he is often sought out for remixes. By refusing to follow trends in commercial house, he has preserved the authenticity of his genre.

No comments: