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Malian Talking Drum Master Baba Sissoko & DJ Khalab’s Dark Video About The Refugee Crisis

Tamani master Baba Sissoko and producer DJ Khalab share the visuals for "Bognya," from their joint album on Wonderwheel Recordings.

Khalab & Baba album art.


Malian musician & vocalist Baba Sissoko is known as a master of the talking drums, or, tamani. In “Bognya” he joins forces with Italian producer DJ Khalab for a track that blends the sounds of Amadran—an entrancing musical structure found in Malian music—with stuttering electronic beatwork and touches of heavy bass.

The accompanying music video for “Bognya,” directed by Federico Zanghì, projects images of crowds & soldiers onto bodies on a beach at night. It’s released in partnership with the #EuropaSenzaMuri (#EuropeWithoutWalls) initiative, which aims to influence foreign policy in order to help refugees seeking asylum in Europe.

“‘Bognya’ is a song about meeting, and the meeting of different music—electronic & traditional Malian music,” writes DJ Khalab in an e-mail to Okayafrica. “In the lyrics, Baba says that a meeting ‘is the key of the world’ and each single time a man meets another man they ‘open a door’ in the world. But the meeting needs to be real to generate good energy, like the one between myself & Baba Sissoko.”

Watch our premiere of “Bognya” below and grab the 10-track Khalab & Baba album, available in digital & vinyl formats from Wonderwheel Recordings.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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