Previously, Issa Bagayogo has been applauded primarily for his wizardry in the use of electronic instruments – drum machines, samplers – to create a distinctive and exceptional “groove” by combining them with the more conventional sounds of Mali. This week’s Song has been plucked out to try and emphasise another string to his bow. ‘Saye Mogo Bana’ is the opening track on a very good afro-electro-hip-hop compilation album called African Groove. What dear Issa Bagayogo is not often credited with is his amazing voice. Sometimes overshadowed by technical aptitude and compelling compositions, Bagayogo should also be recognised for contributing the “soulful vocals” as well as the “bluesy ngoni” to his music, as pointed to in the album’s pull-out. His voice is smooth and easy on the ear, and sits neatly on top of the chilled rhythms he has orchestrated below.
Issa Bagayogo – Saye Mogo Bana
Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.
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The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.
Issa Bagayogo – Kalan Nege
Modern Mali. What imagery do those two words conjure? Carnage and instability, usually. A democratic, tolerant society struggling against war and poverty. A country reeling from a ‘lost decade’ where Mali was once paraded in international development circles as the example of a stable, developing, democratic country for all Africa to follow, whilst in reality those in absolute poverty rose and trafficking of arms and drugs flourished.
Here on the Hub we have always insisted that whatever the weather Mali would always have its music to depend on. Music in Mali is a rallying point. It serves as a social and political innovator and a place where ideas, emotions and histories are melded and mulled over. It is also very often where the opening chords to Mali’s future can be heard first and in this regard Issa Bagayogo is one of Mali’s chief pioneers. Known as ‘Techno Issa‘ , Bagayogo has a flair for integrating traditional West Africa instruments and vocals into rhythmic electronic music.
So is there any indication that Mali will recover in the future? Taking Issa Bagayogo’s lead, the merging of music and the technologies is under way in Bamako again, but in a completely different fashion altogether. African-born, Award-Winning, American pop artist Akon has in the past year launched ‘Akon Lighting Africa’; a project which has tasked itself with bringing clean, renewable solar energy to the 600 million Africans that still live without electricity. Details are still a bit thin on how this “public-private partnership” operates, particularly as much of the capital investment has come from China, but it looks promising. The current views on China’s business practices on the continent are mixed, with imperialist amber warnings rightfully present in any situation that sees seemingly benevolent action on behalf of the Chinese underpinned by massive quantities of raw materials swiftly shipped back in the other direction. However, the solar project has grabbed a lot of attention and certainly sounds like the real-deal in its publicity materials by showing a clear understanding of the problem and the knock-on effects electric-isolation has on health, access to food and education.
The best news is that the project’s new ‘Solar Academy‘ announced by Akon will be based in Bamako. The best solar engineers and entrepreneurs from across Africa, from Europe and China will congregate in Mali’s capital to create innovative solutions to the continent’s energy problems. Apart from the potential boost this will be for the economy, it is a massive endorsement for the city itself. The fact that Bamako can attract these highly-skilled, ‘jobs of the future’ (one that appear to be so illusive to the UK) should go a long way to repaint images of what we believe ‘modern Mali’ to be capable of.
Issa Bagayogo – Kalan Nege
Apologies for there being no song of the week on the 27th of August. A WordPress error prevented the publication.
Issa Bagayogo – Toroya
‘Toroya’ is the second song of the week from “Techno Issa” Bagayogo. Whereas the first time round we concentrated on the difficulties in Issa’s life and chose a song accordingly, here we return to his trademark; the traditional and technological, seamlessly blended into easy-listening modern music.
The electronic elements of this song are subtle, only really reserved for the use of an electronic bass and the production on the melody. Like so much of Mali’s music that has made it into the ears of Westerners the airy voices of two female singers hark back “to traditions of the Wassoulou region of Mali”. Apparently, Issa’s live performances are equally as ambitious. They embrace “dancefloor electronica” in a manner that only appears to impress an audience further – using this as an opportunity to blend traditional performing arts like dance with their modern counterparts also.
Issa Bagayogo – Toroya