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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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Imarhan Are Pushing the Boundaries of Desert Rock

The group's new album, Temet, doesn't just take the next step in Tuareg music. It sends it into hyperspace.

Imarhan's second studio album, Temet, is as much about where Tuareg music has been as it is about where it's going.

Throughout, the desert rock sextet seamlessly combines influences as diverse as Algerian Rai music, American jazz, Burkinabé funk, and global pop. But, given their heritage, this intelligent eclecticism makes perfect sense.

Imarhan's musical stylings stem from centuries old Tuareg traditions. As a semi-nomadic people, the Tuareg forged their culture across North Africa with territory stretching from Tripoli to Ouagadougou to Timbuktu. Tuareg music has always encompassed elements of the numerous cultures located along their historic trading routes while retaining their own unique pentatonic scales and polyrhythmic patterns. On their eponymously titled debut album, Imarhan paid homage to these origins through the emerging genre of desert rock and simultaneously nudged the tradition forward.

But Temet doesn't just take the next step in Tuareg music. It sends it into hyperspace.

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