Traditional Ga Rhythms Meet Techno & House In DJ Katapila's Deranged Ghanaian Dance Track

Accra-based DJ Katapila blends Detroit and Chicago house & techno, West African club influences and traditional Ga rhythms.

DJ Katapila 'Trotro.'

“Cocoawra” is easily one of the most insane tracks we’ve heard this year. Crafted by Accra-based producer and selector DJ Katapila, the song builds a traditional Ga rhythm out of a flurry of electronic drum pads, elements of Detroit and Chicago house & techno, and West African club influences.

“Cocoawra” is named after the Ghanaian porridge made out of fermented corn which can be found across the streets of Accra. In his track, DJ Katapila imitates the calls of ‘coco’ sellers while also rapping in Twi and Ga.

The mind-melting Ghanaian dance sound of 42-year-old DJ Katapila is summed up in his 2009 album Trotro, which is getting re-released next month by Awesome Tapes From Africa. The label adds:

“The uptempo, bass-heavy, Roland 808-rooted sounds [of DJ Katapila] echo early 1990s Detroit techno and Chicago acid house more than the contemporary hiplife productions blasting across Ghanaian airwaves currently. However, the structure of Katapila’s sound directly descends from Ga musical lineage found around Accra.The music contains remnants of the neo-traditional dance music forms gome, kpanlogo and gyama that he was immersed in as a youth.”

Hear the intense rhythm of “Cocoawra” and an equally nuts DJ mix from him below. Trotro is available for pre-order on iTunes and Bandcamp.


7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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