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Davido. Credit: © V. DESJARDINS - Image & Co

MIDEM Is Successfully Showing the Vast Opportunities of the African Music Industry

OkayAfrica CEO Abiola Oke recounts his weekend at this year's MIDEM conference in France.

The last time I was on the French Riviera was the summer of 2006 on a vacation from my banking job, June to be exact, the quadrennial FIFA World Cup games were in swing in neighboring Germany, you could breathe the excitement in the atmosphere. Unbeknownst to me, taking place alongside the soccer games was the annual Fete de la Musique (World Music Day) celebrated in France each year. It was during that same time that I stumbled upon a free concert in Nice where the legendary drummer Tony Allen, a member of Fela Kuti's iconic Afrobeat band Africa 70, was playing his hit song "Asiko" which translates to time or moment from Yoruba. It was a surreal surprise and from that moment on I would never be able to separate music from my experience in this part of the world again.

This year, I returned to France, this time invited by MIDEM, the world's largest international music business conference, to participate in the fourth annual Artist Accelerator program. MIDEM's Artist Accelerator program helps 11 selected musicians from around the world gain access to the conference's crop of industry experts and thought leaders, and also affords them the opportunity to perform live, gain access to mentorship and more.

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Black Coffee Is Working With Pharrell, Cassie and Diplo

We can't wait to hear these songs.

South African DJ and producer extraordinaire Black Coffee continues to break boundaries. One of his dream collaborations, which is Pharrell Williams, is finally happening.

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Hagan, Gafacci & Rvdical the Kid. Photo: Crudo Volta.

How African Polyrhythms Are the Root of European Club Music

We talk to Crudo Volta, creators of the new documentary Yenkyi Taxi, about the deep influence of African polyrhythms.

Polyrhythms, in the West African context, have long been a fertile foundation over which to tell stories. A percussive history passed through generations—through slavery and migration to North America and Europe—the polyrhythm offers a familiar soundtrack for us in the African diaspora.

Within it's contemporary context, the polyrhythm is an export firmly incubated in improvisation from highlife, jazz and funk. The advent of sampling machines soon allowed the percussive break patterns from those genres to be recorded and sampled as loops. As music software became more sophisticated, so did the innovation in changing the tempo of the polyrhythms playing at various speeds, yet still providing the backbone of the beat. A thread later emblematic in hip-hop, the broader-styled breakbeat within the early epoch of the UK rave scene to jungle and drum 'n' bass across the Atlantic.

African polyrhythms—now consumed under the umbrella of house (and it's many sub-genres) across the Mediterranean or the palatable acronym of EDM for American eardrums—have crossed over into the mainstream. There has been a fresh reconnection to the root of the African polyrhythms from the children of those from former colonies in the migrant communities of London and Lisbon through UK funky, kuduro and most recently the Afro-prefixed sound. A digital duality mindful of the past dances with pride into the future, resonating with peers who are taking ownership of their blackness on a global level.

A visual example of this unwavering commitment to own and tell the black experience around African culture is seen through the work of Italian based collective Crudo Volta. Following their excellent debut documentary film, Woza Taxi, which delved into the gqom sound incubated in the townships of Durban, Yenkyi Taxi is their latest visual narrative shifting the focus to how African polyrhythms are the root of European club music.

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