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Bombino, the First Nigerien Artist to Be Nominated For a Grammy

The electrifying musician talks to OkayAfrica about wielding the Tuareg weapon of peace: a guitar.

Omara "Bombino" Moctar, 38, is the Nigerien guitarist who has recently been nominated for a grammy.

His electrifying, acoustic sound and Tamasheq lyrics that touch on his Tuareg heritage and connection with the desert have become a hit. His music is boundless. It is comprised of traditional Berber sounds, the blues, rock & roll and reggae. What is just as unique as the above is his story.

His people, the Tuareg, descendants of the Berbers of North Africa have long been nomads, traders and warriors within the Sahara Desert.

In his early years, Bombino grew up in an encampment in Agadez with his seventeen brothers and sisters and rebelliously refused to go to school. He would attend a French-Arabic school until the age of nine then leave and be taken in by his grandmother, who would instill in him Tuareg moral code.

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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.

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Bombino. Photo: Richard Dumas / Partisan Records.

Bombino "Gets Closer to Africa" In His New Tuareg Blues Album 'Deran'

Tuareg legend Omara "Bombino" Moctar returned to Northern Africa to record his fifth proper album.

The exciting new full-length from Bombino serves as a career retrospective of sorts, touching on the different styles and various iterations of this renowned musician born in Niger. On Deran, the desert blues, traditional folk, and "Tuareggae" music styles Bombino has experimented with over the last decade come together in an amalgam of perfect unity.

Since his collaboration with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and subsequent signing to Nonesuch, Bombino has been lauded as one of the world's greatest living blues guitarists. Producers like Auerbach and, most recently, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth have collaborated with Bombino in an attempt to capture the raging spectacle of his live show. Most often they came up short. But despite what those American recording studios couldn't reproduce, they excelled in inspiring Bombino to realize the limitless possibilities of his music.

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Watch The Music Video Premiere of Nigerien Artist Bombino's Song, 'Deran Deran Alkheir'

The music video is a beautiful representation of the simplicity of love through a Tuareg lens.

Bombino capitalizes on his ability to paint vivid pictures in the mind with striking lyrics and beautiful guitar strums by bringing us a music video for his new track, "Deran Deran Alkheir."

After listening to his full album, we've been wondering when we'd see a music video and we've been finally blessed with the first one. The music video features a bride and groom expressing their love through interpretive-style dance.

Bombino summed up his message and mission for the music video for us:

"Deran Deran Alkheir is a traditional wedding song. It is sung to the man and woman getting married in order to bless them and wish them good fortune together. For this video we wanted to quite simply show the beauty and simplicity of romantic love. I love the way the director, the choreographer, and the dancers interpreted this. It is a beautiful, modern style that matches the spirit of our modern interpretation of the song."

Choreographed by Hillary Pearson and directed by Jonathan Wing, Bombino and his crew perfectly infused tradition with modernity, keeping both the spirit and traditions of the Tuareg people alive.

As Wing put it:

"We wanted to capture dancers in traditional Tuareg clothing, but in a minimal sense. I worked closely with our choreographer to create movement that would be emotional, sharing moments in unison and other moments where they split apart, their energies pushing and pulling. It was important to me that the choreography not be too literal to the beat or constructed as if to a pop song, allowing the emotion to flow more gracefully. Originally we set out to film the dancers in the wide open desert of Southern California, but due to last-minute unforeseen circumstances we pivoted the concept toward a studio, where I abstractly deconstructed the idea of a desert simply through theatrical lighting and color: creating a sort of infinite desert world. This ultimately ended up being a blessing in disguise and we couldn't be prouder with how it turned out."

"Deran Deran Alkheir" is a worthy music video experience. View the full video below, now available on YouTube.

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