Soukous vs. Coupé-Décalé

June 20, 2007

ndombolo-ya-solo.jpgAt first I used to regard claims of Ivorian music being superior in entertainment value to Congolese music as absurd, but now…well I still do :-D. It’s just that more than ever before you West Africans out there truly believe the hype. When I speak of music I’m referring of course to Soukous and Coupé-Décalé (C-D), musical genres born in DR Congo and Cote D’Ivoire respectively. Although C-D is a lot younger than Soukous, it has grown in popularity as quickly as it took the Spurs to handle the Cavs (can you tell I’m a NBA fan:-D). Ok you get it, in just a few years it has spread like the plague, to the point where you can now hear shouts of “travaillement”, “pan pan saute-mouton”, “Saga-citer” – and other cries typical to a C-D tune – in Soukous songs.  Despite its rise in popularity (there’s even a Coupé-Décalé work-out DVD out there!), I maintain that it is absurd to think that it is taking over from Soukous since the former heavily borrows in style from the latter. In fact you can often hear some Lingala phrases in C-D! I’m not hating though, it is very fun to dance although I must admit to my initial reluctance to catch the fever. Perhaps what makes C-D fun is the fact that there so many variants out there such as Décalé Chinois (Chinese Décalé), grippe aviaire (bird flu), Drogba-citer (after the Ivoirian footballer) etc. much more ways to express yourself than just Ndombolo for instance:-D. Today at almost every African party, it is a must for DJs to have a Soukous and a C-D play list. It’s just not an African party without those 2. Still, my loyalty remains with Soukous. Ok…maybe I’m a little biased being Congolese and all, but what do you think?

You can watch clips of Coupé-Décalé and Soukous here.

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This Vanity Africa Affair

June 15, 2007

thedonthediva.jpgSo you’ve heard the buzz about the Vanity Fair July 07 issue about Africa guest edited by Bono, and you’ve seen the many covers of the issue graced by those celebrities most invested in the African cause. Fine, but were you curious enough to get a copy? I know I did and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised because I don’t recall when I last purchased or even read Vanity Fair (is that bad :-/), therefore I didn’t know what to expect. So I grabbed the one featuring Don Cheadle and Iman (which I dubbed “The Don & The Diva” ) a couple of days ago at Virgin in Union Square. I noticed that there many more copies still available of the one with Brad Pitt and Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared to the other ones. In any case, the articles are very informative and discuss a lot of the issues affecting the African continent (HIV/AIDS, government corruption, Darfur etc.) as well as the positives (Literature, artists, rising personalities etc.), all of it presented with a lot of optimism and hope. Some of the pieces in the magazine also feature the work of African journalists which I thought was a nice touch. My favorite article written by a Sebastian Junger was about the involvement of China (purely for economic interest it seems) in Africa (their indirect involvement in Darfur by selling weapons to the Sudanese government in return for oil among other things), mind blowing that one. I urge each and everyone with an interest in ‘all things African’ to get their hands on one!


The assassination of Archbishop Desmond Mutombo of Ethiopia

June 14, 2007

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Mister, I need Visa to go America

June 5, 2007

A recent visit to the Immigration offices in NYC and the hilarious video below reminded me of what a stressful process it was to come (at least try) to the US and maintain your status once admitted. I’m sure you’re heard your share of I-20 and other visa related nightmare stories so I won’t waste your time ;-). So sit back, relax and enjoy the clip (courtesy of Nollywood of course!)…


Black Panther: The Movie

May 25, 2007

Black PantherI’ve been very pleased lately with some ‘big screen’ adaptations of Marvel comic books superheroes, being a huge fan and all. My passion started when I was 8, living in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) at the time, and I’ve been hooked ever since (yes, even African kids in the poorest Third World ghettoes get to read that stuff too).

Hopefully you’ve heard the rumor that there’s chance for a Black Panther movie, and that Wesley Snipes’ company bought the rights to it (he’s slated to play the lead role also). First some background on our protagonist: in the Marvel Universe, the Black Panther who goes by the name of T’Challa, is the king of Wakanda, a fictional African state (remember Zamunda from Coming to America? Dude’s probably got his own money with his face on it too :-D). Exciting and all but damn, can they get somebody else to play the lead role? I must admit I’m a little annoyed at those American actors with fake African accents (Derek Luke in Catching Fire, I still give it to Forrest Whitaker though). It’s just doesn’t feel authentic to me is my point! It’s the equivalent of say…have Arnold Schwarzenegger play an American president (uh oh :-D). So why not get an African actor to play T’Challa? There are a few candidates out there and I came up with this short list:

1. Djimon Hounsou aka ‘Give us…us…FREE!!!’: I’m tired of seeing him in supporting roles, he’s a good act in his own right and deserves a lead role, in addition to his physique I think he’s the best candidate.
2. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje aka Mr. Eko from LOST, enough said
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor: wasn’t he kick-ass in Serenity?
4. Akon: ok…I know what you’re thinking but you have to admit, dude is every – freaking – where, might as well be in this movie right?
5. Dikembe Mutombo: I think he would make the dialogues fun.

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photo source: Marvel Directory

Cool Black Panther wallpaper here!


Nigerian Movies Now Online

May 23, 2007

naija.jpgIt was a couple years ago that I was introduced to Nigerian movies and I’ve gotten to like them ever since. The thing I enjoy most about them is that they remind you so much of home (we all have homesickness blues sometimes right?), even if you’re not from Nigeria. Although I always meant to support Nollywood (the 3rd largest movie industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood), I must admit that sadly, the only copies of movies I ever bought were bootlegs, courtesy of African CD/DVD kiosks in the hood (Harlem/Bronx) :-D. I mean seriously have you ever watched a Nigerian film with a crystal clear image and sound quality or an original (legal copy)?
In any case, I read in this article that the African Movie Channel based in the UK started making Naija and other African movies available online, and the best thing about it is that it’s totally legal and the quality of the downloads is stunning reportedly. Now at least you can be confident that your money will be going toward supporting an industry that all Africans can be proud of. To learn more go to www.africanmoviechannel.com


Bring back Mr. Eko!

May 16, 2007

If you live in the US and have cable service, chances are you watch the ABC’s extreme-freakingly popular show LOST. Ifeko.jpg you do and you’re African, weren’t you ecstatic when they found Nairas (Nigerian currency) on that airplane in the jungle? Man, you knew something good was coming. And surely enough Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (ridiculous in that 50 Cent movie by the way) was introduced (in the episode “Adrift”) soon after, which marked the beginning of “Ekomania”. Okay…it may have been somewhat of a silent movement, without hooplas and crazy merchandising, ridiculous trends (eg: Eko’s stick on ebay anyone?) or what have you, but you know deep in your heart you were happy as hell to see an African in the most popular show on TV get some significant screen time. You just had to love the guy, man of few words (perhaps because he adhered to the ideology that actions speak louder than words?) and kick-ass demeanor that not even Michelle Rodriguez could top.
Like many of you out there I grew fonder of the character of Mr. Eko and was looking forward to seeing what his next move was going to be every Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the writers of LOST decided to give Mr. Eko the boot to the disappointment of “Ekomaniacs” such as myself. Although I still watch the show, I strongly believe it was unnecessary to rid it of a major character such as Mr. Eko, he added a certain rawness and edge to LOST in my opinion that the show will need again, especially considering the lackluster episodes of late. ABC I got one solution for you: Bring Back Mr. Eko!