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Bombino. Photo: Richard Dumas / Partisan Records.

Bombino "Gets Closer to Africa" In His New Tuareg Blues Album 'Deran'

Tuareg legend Omara "Bombino" Moctar returned to Northern Africa to record his fifth proper album.

The exciting new full-length from Bombino serves as a career retrospective of sorts, touching on the different styles and various iterations of this renowned musician born in Niger. On Deran, the desert blues, traditional folk, and "Tuareggae" music styles Bombino has experimented with over the last decade come together in an amalgam of perfect unity.

Since his collaboration with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and subsequent signing to Nonesuch, Bombino has been lauded as one of the world's greatest living blues guitarists. Producers like Auerbach and, most recently, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth have collaborated with Bombino in an attempt to capture the raging spectacle of his live show. Most often they came up short. But despite what those American recording studios couldn't reproduce, they excelled in inspiring Bombino to realize the limitless possibilities of his music.


For Deran, Bombino and his band of Tuareg musicians returned to Africa to record at Casablanca's Studio HIBA. Save for the 2014 Glitterbeat album Agamgam 2004, recorded live in the south central Saharan desert Ténéré, this was his first time recording an album in his homeland continent.

"My mission for this album was always to get closer to Africa," he tells his label Partisan Records.

The Moroccan studio space afforded Bombino the time, space and comfort necessary to create an album that truly taps into to the Tuareg region he hails from. "An important thing to know is the desert is a very vast open space," Bombino told The New York Times. "Sound and music there carries a power with it, so you get the feeling when you're holding an instrument in your hand and playing it, you're completing a picture that was otherwise incomplete."

A similar, in-house ethos was considered for collaborators on Deran. The record was produced by Bombino's manager Eric Herman, which is to say the record was hardly produced at all (no shade intended). The executive decision to choose his manager to produce an LP was a brilliant one. Complete independence and total creative agency were things rarely granted to Bombino in the studio. But on these new songs that's exactly the kind of freedom he has.

Bombino makes a conscious effort to strip down some of the bells and whistles Longstreth used to make his last record, Azel. He applies everything he's learned and experienced with an air of sophistication and a certain amount of physical restraint, working against the Jimi Hendrix comparison critics have historically gravitated toward.

For all intent and purposes, it feels as if Bombino's desert has been brought to the studio. The album's closing tracks "Takamba" and "Adouagh Chegren" sound as if they've been recorded live and work well to replicate the sensation of vastness and openness felt during Bombino's famous outdoor concerts in Niger and Algeria.

Bombino's best work might still be ahead of him, but Deran will stand through time as the first record to adequately voice his artistry.

Bombino's 'Deran' is available now from Partisan Records.


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Watch Davido & Bombino Perform at Idris Elba's Wedding in Morocco

Elba personally requested performances from the Nigerian star and Tuareg desert rock guitarist.

Idris Elba tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Sabrina Dhowre, over the weekend in Marrakesh.

The couple exchanged vows on April 26 at the Ksar Char Bagh hotel. The celebrations were held over several days, as Vogue reports: "The celebrations have been spread out over three days. Friends and family attended a "colours of the Souk" themed dinner the night before the wedding at the Amanjena. On April 27, they... attend[ed] an all-white party at the Mandarin Oriental, which will emulate the atmosphere of a festival."

Other details have been coming out from the wedding, like the fact Sabrina Dhowre wore dresses by Vera Wang, while Elba wore a suit by British-Ghanaian designer Ozwald Boateng, and that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sent over a piece of art as a gift to the newlyweds.

One detail that hasn't quite made the rounds is about the music—and the fact that Elba & Dhowre's wedding featured performances from none-other-than Nigerian star Davido and Tuareg desert rock guitarist Bombino.

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Bombino, the First Nigerien Artist to Be Nominated For a Grammy

The electrifying musician talks to OkayAfrica about wielding the Tuareg weapon of peace: a guitar.

Omara "Bombino" Moctar, 38, is the Nigerien guitarist who has recently been nominated for a grammy.

His electrifying, acoustic sound and Tamasheq lyrics that touch on his Tuareg heritage and connection with the desert have become a hit. His music is boundless. It is comprised of traditional Berber sounds, the blues, rock & roll and reggae. What is just as unique as the above is his story.

His people, the Tuareg, descendants of the Berbers of North Africa have long been nomads, traders and warriors within the Sahara Desert.

In his early years, Bombino grew up in an encampment in Agadez with his seventeen brothers and sisters and rebelliously refused to go to school. He would attend a French-Arabic school until the age of nine then leave and be taken in by his grandmother, who would instill in him Tuareg moral code.

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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