Audio

Senegalese Griot Icon Aby Ngana Diop's 'Liital' Re-Released On Awesome Tapes From Africa

Senegalese griot singer Aby Ngana Diop's 'Liital' is out now on Awesome Tapes From Africa.


Senegalese griot singer Aby Ngana Diop is the latest artist to be celebrated by Awesome Tapes from Africa. Something of a celebrity in her hometown of Dakar in the '80s and '90s, Diop (who passed away in 1997) was often the go-to performer for the city's politicians and officials. Using Tasuu (a Wolof-based fast-paced poetry), Liital, Diop's only album, is a beautifully ramshackled collection of songs, which was rereleased this month by Awesome Tapes.

Like Abbey Lincoln before her and Merril Garbus after her, Diop has an almost scarily fiery voice. It's less the sound of scorn, though, and more the intense yet playful chants of someone screaming their heart out. On the track "Dieuleul-Dieuleul," for example, Diop shouts the titular words (which mean "Take it, take it") with a passion as strong as the song's thick drums and as strangely calming as the shrill whistles behind her. "Sapaly," one of the album's closing pieces, is a bit slower, and perhaps even meditative, yet keeps Diop's signature beauty-yell. It's not surprising, then, that Tasuu, the vocal style Diop delivers throughout the album, is thought to be a precursor to rap; it has that same ferocity, the same uncomfortable comfort. Similar to Nas's Illmatic (1994) and FugeesThe Score (1996), Diop's Liiat thrills not only in its vocal mastery but in the mix of pain and joy behind it. 

Unique in Senegalese music for its conflation of traditional griot singing and mbalax (Senegal's national popular dance music), Liital is a near pioneering record. Diop's mad-happy voice is fascinating, though, and she holds her own as one of the fiercest artists to come out of Senegal. Listen to "Dieuleul-Dieuleul" off the record below. Liital is out now on LP/CD/MP3/Limited Edition Cassette via Awesome Tapes From Africa. Read more about Aby Ngana Diop over here.

Interview

Interview: TOBi Is Making Unapologetic Soul Music

We talk to the Nigerian-Canadian artist about his latest project ELEMENTS, his creative process, mental health and more.

It's a big year for music, and in the midst of many good drops from the motherland and beyond, we caught up with Nigerian-Canadian singer/songwriter TOBi to discuss his recently released 10-track project ELEMENTS.

ELEMENTS is a fusion of old-school soul, contemporary rap sequences, clever lyrical symbols & metaphors. and melancholic vibes which reference TOBi's Nigerian heritage through afrobeats, the reality of his life and the state of the world today. The compilation features production from Nigerian producer Juls on "Dollas and Cents" and "Made Me Everything and Shine."

Below, we also discuss his creative process and passion for mental health with the announcement of an exciting collaboration. "I'm attracted and curious about so many things in life that I can't help but bring [them] into my world and craft," the multi-genre artist says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Comedian Munya Chawawa Signs Major Deal with Atlantic Records

Zimbabwean-born, UK-based comedian Munya Chawawa, known for his hilarious online skits, has recently signed a lucrative deal with Atlantic Records.