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Here's Some Future Synth Music From Niger

Nigerién keyboardist Hama transforms Saharan folk songs into psychedelic electronic gems in his new album, Houmeissa.

Hama is a composer and keyboardist based in Niamey, Niger making something we haven't really much of: electronic desert folk songs.

Hama, also known as Hama Techno (real name Mouhamadou Moussa), spends his days working as a private driver in Niamey and came to doing music almost as an accident when a neighbor gifted him a synthesizer.

It was that gift that led him to start reinterpreting popular desert folk songs through an electronic lens.


Hama's songs play like an entrancing blend of Tuareg guitars and melodies with early 90s techno, synth wave, sci-fi soundtracks and much more.

According to Sahel Sounds, he "quickly became an underground star on the underground mp3 networks [of Niger], unattributed compositions traded by Bluetooth on Saharan cellphones."

"Terroir," a new single and music video that we're premiering here today, is an interpretation of a traditional Tuareg folk song.

Hama mentions, "When I was young, I used to visit my aunt who lived in the village Torodi. All of the children in the village listened to this on cassette. It was played on a tehardine [traditional guitar]—I adapted it to the piano, and now I've remixed it."

Watch the "Terroir" visual created by Jason Traeger below. Houmeissa is out January 18 via Sahel Sounds.

Hama - Terroir youtu.be

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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