Watch Nigerian Crooner Bez Unplugged In Kigali For The Illume Sessions

Nigerian alt-soul musician Bez performs an acoustic set for Kigali collective Illume Creative Studio's mini-doc series, Illume Sessions.

It's been a while since we've heard from Kigali-based "afropolitan collective" Illume Creative Studio and their mini-documentaries, Illume Sessions. Nonetheless the series recently returned with a double installment featuring Nigerian alternative soul musician Bez, whose "Say" was one of our Top Ten Nigerian Songs of 2013.

In the first session, Bez travels to Rwanda for the first time, and between meeting the Ambassador of Nigeria to Rwanda, P.A. Ogidi-Oke, and performing in front of a crowd, he discusses his entry into music and the difference between the African music of past and present. "In the times of Fela Kuti," Bez says. "He used music as that tool to talk for the people. And a lot of people could relate just 'cause he was saying what they wanted to say but they just didn't really say it...A lot of people are so tired of, like, 'Africa is hardship,' we are in 'the back of the woods,' we're the 'dark continent,' and everything. And a lot of people just want to celebrate Africa. They just want to celebrate who we are." In the second session, Bez plays an engaging acoustic set of songs off his celebatory 2011 LP, Super Sun. Watch both videos below and stay tuned for more from Illume.

Photo: Felipe Maia.

Making Music Between the Cracks In Senegal

Navigating mbalax, hip-hop, and afropop, Senegalese artists are sticking together to make their music heard.

Taking a stroll in Dakar is an overwhelming sonic experience. One of the busiest metropolises of West Africa, Senegal's capital is flooded by taxis with lousy tailpipes and drivers who are keen to honk every now and then while cruising long avenues by the seaside. All over the city, several minarets' speaker boxes remind the prayer times throughout the day, adding chants to daily people's chats in different languages and dialects.

At first, it may not seem too different from other big cities in Africa, but one kind of music sets a unique dakarois tone. Whether in a clothing store, having a thieboudienne for lunch or taking a cab, one's ears will be caught by mbalax music.

A new generation of artists wants to bring different sounds to the main stage of the Senegalese arts. They are the likes of the electro-fueled trio Guiss Guiss Bou Bess, the big afrobeat-ish band Sahad & The Nataal Patchwork and the experimentalist sound-maker Ibaaku. He's one of the founders of Kandang, a newly-born platform that aspires to build up a healthy environment that could develop the work of Senegalese musicians through concerts, workshops and promotion.

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