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Celebrated Coupé-Décalé Pioneer DJ Arafat Has Died from a Motorcycle Accident

The continent and the world has lost a true force who put the sounds of Côte d'Ivoire on the map.

DJ Arafat—a beacon of Côte d'Ivoire's coupé-décalé sound—tragically succumbed to his injuries from a motorcycle accident Monday morning, BBC Afrique reports.

Ivorian Public Radio-Television (RTI) says Maurice Bandaman, Ivorian Minister of Culture, confirmed his death, saying DJ Arafat, born Ange Didier Houon, collided into a car driven by a journalist from Radio Côte d'Ivoire Sunday night. He was not wearing a helmet.


RFI Africa adds that the journalist involved in the accident is still hospitalized and is under observation. Videos and images have been circulating on social media, showing Arafat lying on the road unconscious before he was rushed to the hospital.


"The boy is gone—he lived like a shooting star," A'salfo, the leader of Ivorian group Magic System, shares with Jeune Afrique. "In the style of zouglou, internationally, there is Magic System. For coupé-décalé, it was DJ Arafat. This is a great loss for Ivorian music."

Coupé-décalé is a genre developed by a set of DJs known as the Jet Set around 2002 and was then pushed by member Douk Sega until his death in 2006. The sound, known for it's percussion-heavy style, was a response to the political/military crisis Côte d'Ivoire was going through at the time.

DJ Arafat was a pioneer of coupé-décalé in his own right and was considered to be one of the top artists to come out of French-speaking Africa. He amassed over 2.3 million followers on Facebook alone—where he called his fan club China.

He was 33 years old.

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Image: Ian Watts

The New Fela Kuti Box Set is Curated by Femi Kuti & Chris Martin

And they said the perfect holiday gift doesn't exist...

Fela Kuti's 50th anniversary reissues released this year have reminded us why his status as a legend continues to ring true.

Through the year, Partisan Records (the homes of Fela's catalog) has released a number of special reissues, and now Vinyl Box #5 is set to drop just in time for you to be named the coolest gift giver in your friend group. The highly-anticipated fifth installment of vinyl reissues was co-curated by Fela's son, Nigerian afrobeat ambassador Femi Kuti and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

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