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David Byrne Speaks On William Onyeabor

David Byrne speaks on Nigerian electro-synth pioneer William Onyeabor.


Back in 1988, Talking Heads frontman and indie godfather David Byrne founded Luaka Bop. Then an imprint specializing in Brazilian music, the NYC-based label has since become home to some of our favorite records and artist from across the globe, such as Sierra Leone's Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang. Most recently, Luaka Bop is behind a younger generation's fascination with 1970s Nigerian synth-funk. Back in July we wondered "Who is William Onyeabor?" Nine months later, Onyeabor is far from an unknown name in music circles and beyond. Next month the spectacle-like Atomic Bomb! live tributes to the music of William Onyeabor head to NYC as a part of Red Bull Music Academy. With Byrne at the helm of a bill that includes a reunited Lijadu Sisters, Sinkane, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), and Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), we asked the Luaka Bop founder to share some thoughts on his interest in William Onyeabor:

Onyeabor isn't exactly new, but for sure he's smooth and good, as he would put it. Eric at Luaka has the best stories as he visited Onyeabor and wrote up his experiences on the Todomundo website.

I first heard an Onyeabor track on a collection of 70s African recordings that Yale Evelev put together for Luaka called Love's a Real Thing. The Onyeabor recording was unusual in that most African pop groups at the time were playing guitars and maybe some organ and electric piano (like on the Fela recordings) but Onyeabor went fully into synthesizer land - which was unheard of in Africa at the time.

Very positive "conscious" lyrics on some songs- maybe he was hearing some Curtis Mayfield? But then he became born again or something and the music stopped- Things Fall Apart for real.

David

Catch Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor next month with David Byrne, Sinkane, Alexis Taylor, Pat Mahoney, Kele Okereke, The Lijadu Sisters, Joshua Redman, Money Mark, and more!

May 2nd - BAM, Brooklyn, NY

May 3rd - BAM, Brooklyn, NY

May 6th - The Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

May 8th - The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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