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Video: Toto's Africa, Rehashed - Episode 1


Low covers Toto


Toto's smash hit "Africa" is epic . Off the 1982 album Toto IV, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has been played ad nauseam at bar mitzvahs, weddings, and dance parties everywhere. Despite the obvious cheese, we love it.

According to Toto's (1999-era) website, the song came about when David Paich, the keyboradist, watched a documentary about the "death and suffering" of the people of Africa.  He wrote: "it both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about if I was there and what I'd do." Drummer Jeff Porcaro elaborates; according to him, the song is about "a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past." (For a more detailed desciption of how the song was developed, you can check the website.)

Remixes and covers abound; the song is immortal. In this recurring feature, we bring you the best (and sometimes worst) of the perhaps most celebrated pop sing about the Continent. This week's episode is brought to you care of The Onion's AV Club UNDERCOVER 2011 series in which today's (mostly indie) bands are challenged to cover one of 25 songs - in this installment the Minnestoan indie rock band Low covers Africa.

After the jump, the phenomenal original video.

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Audio
(Youtube)

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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