Audio

Exclusive: Buraka Som Sistema Introduce Zouk Bass

Buraka Som Sistema introduce ZOUK BASS — a screwed, electronic take on 80s French Antillean zouk music.


Buraka Som Sistema's recent Boiler Room session, which we posted a few moons ago, sparked some serious intrigue from global bass heads worldwide for its "introduction" of Zouk Bass — a screwed, electronic take on 80s French Antillean zouk music popularized by Kassav. We asked Buraka member Kalaf to breakdown this genre mutation for us.

"We created it," Kalaf responded via e-mail, "while recording Komba we were exploring other rhythms such as Zouk and Kizomba... When we were invited to play at the Boiler Room we had this idea to share more Lisbon sounds (beside kuduro) with the world. Since we like to twist things up we think "Zouk Bass" would be perfect name to label those beats."

On their Enchufada label page, Buraka describe the genetic make-up of the genre in a post titled We Call It Zouk Bass: "By lowering the BPM and taking Zouk’s rhythms and melodies to meet the electronic and bass-heavy sounds of the UK underground a new genre was born."

While BSS can certainly be credited for proliferating this new sub-genre and bringing it to a world stage, the track that inspired it all — and the first tune Buraka dropped on their Boiler Room set — was Deejay Kuimba's "Tarraxo Na Parede." In an interview with Generation Bass, the Setubal (Portugal) based underground DJ/producer described the style of his track: "Zouk Bass for me it’s different than any other style but it is still based on “Tarraxinha” and “Kizomba” but totally different.... The idea is a dance style of music but leaning against the wall while dancing to it as u can imagine listening to that beat."

Stream Deejay Kuimba's track and watch Buraka Som Sistema's Boiler Room set below.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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