Audio

DJ Tron's 'Retro Zouk' Mixtape

Stream The Very Best co-founder DJ Tron's 45-minute exploration of 80s French Antillean zouk music in his 'Retro Zouk' mix.


Secousse Radio's DJ Tron, a co-founder of Radioclit/The Very Best, comes through with the 45-minute Retro Zouk mixtape, an exploration into the 1980s French-Antillean zouk style popularized by band's like Kassav (which was recently flipped to birth the underground zouk bass genre). DJ Tron explained his selections in detail to Okayafrica via e-mail:

"I grew up in France in the eighties, an era where certain zouk artists like Kassav, Francky Vincent and Zouk Machine were at the top of the charts. They still are very popular to this day, every single French person knows "Maldon" by Zouk Machine for instance. When you listen to the FM in France today, you can still hear their tunes being played regularly. Paris was definitely zouk city of adoption, it had many record shops, discotheques and radio stations dedicated to it and most of the big artists were based there."

"I was obsessed with hip hop as a teenager," DJ Tron adds, "I went to live in London for eight years for the love of grime and sound system culture, and I started digging heavily into African music more than a decade ago. It is only a few years ago, after relistening for the millionth time to the biggest zouk classic "Zouk-la-sé Sel Médikaman Nou Ni" by Kassav that I felt I should investigate properly with that sound of my youth. I had been playing that tune for a very long time in my DJ sets and there was a few times where Caribbean people would come to the booth to talk to me and ask me for tons of tunes that they were calling 'classics' and that I had no idea about. The more I started getting into other zouk records, thanks to youtube and French flea markets, the more I realized the quality of it. It had two main ingredients that were definitely missing in current dance music: proper musicianship and happy vibes."

"Today I consider zouk a massive influence on my approach to music. I think musicianship, learning how to play an instrument for real (and not just to record 20 seconds and make a loop), and major chords are probably what is gonna shape the sound of tomorrow's clubs. I think it is the message that Daft Punk also delivered with "Get Lucky" and the hiring of Nile Rodgers and so many other fantastic musicians. Which brings me to my last point: the meeting of zouk and disco. You can hear that vibe slightly surfacing sometimes in my mix, like in "Soleil" and "Lague Moin," and it's fantastic."

"Zouk is a ghost in Paris now," he concludes, "most clubs, record shops and radios [that played it] have closed long ago. Modern zouk still being made is not so good I feel. But I'm sure the wave could come back big time."

Stream DJ Tron's extensive excursion into Guadeloupe and Martinique's 1980s zouk style above in 'Retro Zouk.'

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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