Okay okay…I know it’s not Saturday. But, as this is the time I had to post my inaugural Saturday Smash feature, just humour me and pretend it’s Saturday.
In my Saturday Smash posts, I will talk about a song of the week that I’m really digging, and trace a few roots back from that style.
This week’s edition is the song Maga 2 Mugu by multi award winning Nigerian-American artist Davido. The 5 song EP was released on Sony just three weeks ago on October 21 and is available on Itunes and Apple Music.
Most of us in the Western world are pretty ignorant of the many music scenes thriving outside our major labels. This is the first I’ve heard of this artist but he’s received 29 awards and 79 nominations from African popular culture institutions. (PS – just want to acknowledge here the colonial baggage that white critics “discovery” of African or other cultures’ artists holds. While that is certainly not my intention, it’s important not to ignore history and acknowledge that this dynamic is present.)
The entire EP is excellent but this song immediately stuck out to me. The saxophone, and the quality of the synth timbre and overal production of the instruments give the song a retro 80’s vibe, while Davido and guest artist Simi’s autotuned vocals keep it to the minute.
The song’s combination of modern, retro, Western, and African elements remind me of an iconic African artist that pioneered electronic African music: Francis Bebey.
Bebey is considered the father of the Afrobeat genre, and is notable for his huge body of work that fused the newest electronic technology of the day (1970’s) with traditional African rhythms and forms. I first learned about him in 2011 when a tribute compilation was released, and was struck by how modern his music sounded.
For those who don’t speak French, the text of the song is essentially a French African precursor of the iconic MJ track Billie Jean written:
“Agatha, don’t lie. That’s not my son and you know it.”