Lost links & Re-ups

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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

13 May 2013

Côte d'Ivoire

Reggae comin’ atcha live from Côte d'Ivoire, mon. All ma frenz know I & I luv de dub & reggae, mon. Bein’ a narco-anarchist radical Buddhist, I’m always wantin’ ta take up de chalice ‘r de spliff of sacrament for His Majesty Ras Tafari. Selassie I. Liven up yerself.

Alpha Blondy was born Seydou Koné in Dimbokro, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) on January 1, 1953. He is one of the most respected reggae singers from Africa. He sings mainly in his native language of Dioula, in French, & in English. Sometimes even in Arabic or Hebrew. His lyrics convey serious political attitudes with a sense of humor.

Eldest son in a family of 8 children, Seydou Koné was raised by his grandmother. In 1962, Alpha Blondy went to join his father in Odienné, where he spent ten years. He attended Sainte Elisabeth High School. There he became involved in the Côte d'Ivoire students movement. He decided to form a band. However, his music interfered with his schooling. He was expelled due to poor attendance. His parents then sent him to study English in Monrovia in the neighboring country of Liberia in 1973. He spent thirteen months there. Then he moved to the United States to improve his English.

In 1973 Seydou moved to New York City (also briefly Texas) where he studied English at Hunter College. He later enrolled in the Columbia University American Language Program. He majored in English. He had to work part-time, sometimes at night, & was often ill. He then returned to the Côte d'Ivoire. He just hung around until he ran in to one of his childhood friends, Fulgence Kassi. Kassi had become a noted television producer. This was the beginning of his real career as a singer. At this time he began to use the name Alpha Blondy.

After various TV shows for Kassi, Blondy recorded his first solo album in 1982, entitled Jah Glory. Songs like "Brigadier Sabari" in which Alpha criticized police harassment where taken up as symbols of resistance. Some of the lyrics were based on personal experience, as Alpha himself had seen police violence first hand.

Alpha Blondy became a big star in Abidjan with his own African twist on Reggae music. He became, in the eyes of his fans, ‘the Bob Marley of Africa’. Alpha Blondy is spiritual, political & positive like Marley himself. He has even recorded a cover of Bob Marley's song "War."

Soon the fame of Alpha Blondy spread to Europe. Following the success of an EP entitled Rasta Poué he went to Paris in 1984 to make his second album, Cocody Rock, for the label Pathe Marconi. Blondy traveled to the island of Jamaica where he recorded the title track of this album with Marley’s backing group, The Wailers.

Back home in 1985, Alpha went into the studio to record Apartheid is Nazism. This album was more politically committed than ever. It is a call for the end of Apartheid & the freedom for all.

On Apartheid is Nazism, the performers are: Alpha Blondy – lead vocals; Christian Polloni & Yao Mao – lead guitars; Julie Mourillon & Sam Camara – rhythm guitars; Georges Kouakou – keyboards; Michel Constant & Nyaha Yodan Emmanuel – saxophones; Patrick Artero – trumpet; Kamassa Seth – bass; Lick – percussion; & José Shillingford & Michel Abihssira – drums, with Anne-Marie Constant, Manow Bale, Paula Moore, & Rochelle Robertson on backing vocals.


decryption code in comments

Face A –
Jah Houphouet
Apartheid is Nazism

Face B –
Sebe Allah Y’e
Come Back Jesus

In 1986 Blondy recorded Jerusalem at the legendary Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica, again with The Wailers featuring legendary Aston "Family Man" Barrett – bass among other notables( like Junior Murvin).

Jerusalem was recorded & mixed at Tuff Gong Studios, Kingston, Jamaica. On the album are: Alpha Blondy – vocals; Junior Murvin – lead guitar; Earl ‘ Chinna’ Smith & Owen Reid – rhythm guitar; Earl ‘Wire’ Lindo & Georges Kouakou – keyboards; Calvin ‘Bubbles’ Cameron, David Madden, & Glen DaCosta – horns; Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett – bass; Carlton Barrett – drums; & Noel ‘Scully’ Simms & Iziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson – percussion, with Dahlia Lyons, Georgia ‘Pat’ Higgs, Lorna Wainwright, Marcia Higgs, & Olive ‘Senya’ Grant – backing vocals.

decryption code in comments

Side A –
Bloodshed in Africa
I Love Paris

Side B –
Kalachnikov Love
Travailler c’est Trop Dur
Boulevard de la Mort


Several times we have touched on the African griot tradition. Doumbia Moussa Fakoly (Tiken Jah Fakoly) was born in the town of Odienné on the northern slope of the Ivory Coast on June 23, 1968 into a family of musicians & oral historians. He was born into the time-honored Griot caste. Fakoly took an earnest interest in reggae as a young boy

In the tradition of Bob Marley & Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah Fakoly emerged in the late 90s as Africa's premier social critic through reggae. He formed his first group in 1987, giving them the name Djelys.   Djely is another word for the griots & minstrels. Taking on the mantel of a history keeper, Fakoly wrote lyrics that documented events of his times & the oppression of his people. He was quickly known regionally. Soon his music & reputation stretched across the nation. Even beyond its borders.

The musical vehicle Tiken Jah has chosen to transmit his message is the classic, fist-in-the-air, reggae sound of the 70s, replete with lilting ganja-grooves, lush horn arrangements & feel-good vocal harmonies.

Despite his dreadlocks & his lifelong devotion to reggae as a genre, Tiken Jah is very clear about his position on Rastafarianism. He was raised in a strict Muslim family. He remains a devout believer of Islam. He accepts Rasta as a set of moral values rather than a religion in itself. "I'm a Muslim, but the link between myself and Rasta is Haile Selassie," he explains, "He was an African leader who liberated his people from the colonial oppressor. His philosophy was to give to each person their dignity, to aspire to equality & justice. That was the struggle of His Majesty Selassie I. I adhere to that."

Tiken Jah began to ditch the proverbial approach to musical protest so favored by the older generation, & to let the truth stand naked for all to see. His 1996 album Mangercratie urged politicians to forget all their luxurious discussions & to concentrate on the simple right of all to be fed. It sold more than half a million official cassettes (nobody knows how many pirate copies have been sold). It made Tiken Jah a star, a spokesperson for the bramagos, the impoverished hopeless youth of Abidjan, Bouaké, Bamako, & Dakar.

But with the honesty came danger. Government hit-lists have been unearthed with Tiken Jah's name prominent amongst those of journalists, trade unionists, & opposition politicians. For a while he owed his survival to a small group of soldiers in General Guéi's bodyguard who also happened to be huge reggae fans. When the heat began to rise they would tip Tiken Jah off. He would flee north into Mali or Burkina Faso to wait for things to cool down.

Such is not the case today. Like Bob Marley or Fela Kuti, Tiken Jah has achieved that rare status of untouchability, where his fame is such that no politician would sensibly dare eliminate him for fear of the popular protest it might unleash.

"They condone dictatorship/
Just to make us hungry/
They plunder our riches/
To bury us alive/
They've burnt the Congo/
Inflamed Angola/
They've ruined Gabon/
They've burnt Kinshasa,"
goes the chorus of "Françafrique",

This album is called Françafrique. Françafrique is a term that has described so well the incestuous relationship between France & its former African colonies since they achieved independence in 1960. It was a relationship mostly between corrupt African dictators & the French political leaders they lavishly paid in exchange for support against opposition, for closing their eyes to the siphoning out of their impoverished countries’ wealth.

Tiken sings in the language of Dioula & French. Françafrique was recorded at the famed Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica.

On Françafrique, the performers are: Tiken Jah Fakoly – vocals; Tyrone Downie – keyboards; Manu Yodan – saxophone; Robbie Shakespeare – bass; Sly Dunbar – drums; Ayarinde Bamidele – talking drums; & Sky Juice – percussion, featuring the vocals of U-Roy, Anthony B., & Yaniss Odua on various songs with Julie Broli – backing vocals.

 Tiken Jah Fakoly – Françafrique 2xLP, Barclay 589613-1, 2002.
decryption code in comments

Side A –
On a Tout Compris (Mangercratie)

Side B –
Y’en A Marre
Le Balayeur

Side C –

Side D –
Le Pays Va Mal



  1. Apartheid is Nazism

  2. Cote d'Ivoir has so much more than mediore reggae. Try this one