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Akon Answers 'The Questions' For Okayafrica TV

Akon answers 'The Questions' on Senegalese Mbalax, "lighting Africa" and Nigerian pop music in an interview with Okayafrica TV.


When we found out Akon would be in DC during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit we knew we'd have plenty to discuss. The son of Senegalese drummer legend Mor Thiam and raised for part of his childhood in the "home of Gorée Island," Akon is undoubtedly a key player in the West African pop music market as both an industry head honcho (his Konvict Muzik imprint represents Naija pop stars P-Square, Wizkid, and 2face Idibia) and a featured artist on some of the biggest Lagos club remixes in recent years, including "Chop My Money" and "Dami Duro." More recently he's launched the Akon Lighting Africa Project with the goal of bringing electricity to one million homes in Africa by the end of 2014. In addition to meeting with leaders in Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Côte d'Ivoire this year, Akon brought his solar-powered initiative to DC for the White House's first ever African leaders summit. It was there that Okayafrica TV had the chance to pick his brain about his Senegalese upbringing and his recent endeavors in West Africa. Like, what music did he grow up on? Who's Senegal's all-time greatest musician? How exactly is he "lighting Africa?" What sparked his interest in Naija pop? Who else from the continent is he looking to sign, and is there even space for Nigerian pop in the American market? Watch Akon answer "The Questions" to these and more in the latest episode of Okayafrica TV.

Videographer: Thomas Mobley

Editor: Imani Lindsey

Interview
Photo: Mariela Alvarez.

Interview: ÌFÉ Blends Music & Religion to Honor Those Who Have Died During the Pandemic

Producer and percussionist Otura Mun talks about his latest EP, The Living Dead, and how he traces the influences of West Africa in his new work.

There are bands that open up a spiritual world through their music. ÌFÉ is one example. An electro-futurist band that fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jamaican dancehall with Yoruba mystical voices. With the success of their 2017 debut album "IIII+IIII" (pronounced Eji-Ogbe), ÌFÉ has reached an audience that is looking for Caribbean and contemporary sounds.

The Puerto Rican-based band just released a new EP, The Living Dead- Ashé Bogbo Egun, that aims to heal and honor those who have died during this pandemic. Otura Mun, the band leader, is an African-American producer and percussionist, who began a personal journey about a decade ago, when he landed in San Juan, and decided to move there. He learned Spanish, dug deep into his African ancestry and started to practice the Yoruba-Caribbean religion of Santería.

ÌFÉ, which means "love and expansion" in Yoruba, ties two worlds, music and religion, artistically. This new EP modernized prayer songs to hopefully make them more accessible to a younger generation. OkayAfrica spoke with Otura Mun on his latest work.

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