CIAfrica like Pam Grier, elephants, fat synthesizers, and singing with such conviction that it often sounds like shouting. Or maybe they are shouting.
Visionary producer Green Dog (aka Amadou Komara) spearheads these rowdy MCs, singers, and personalities headquartered in ‘Babi’- Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast. CIAfrica is Wu-Tang to Amadou’s RZA. And their music is weird, heavy - yet popular, somehow, in the West African country’s capital city.
Underground hero Manusa holds the biggest presence here - fitting since he's one of the Abidjan rap scene’s founding fathers. Our Franco-Congolese point man Fred writes: “Social circumstances such as politic violence, everyday troubles into shapeshifting modern Africa are spitted up over hefty beats and troublemaking electronic dubs. Pure product of third millennium, Manusa's music reaches miles away from the expected party music melted with traditional sounds.”
It's true: when lots of folks think about African music, they think: “it's dancey, it's happy, nice melodies, very uplifting" or maybe they think about kuduro remixes or “hybridity”. But CIAfrica are abrasive, synthetic, angular, non-dancey lyric-driven music. Urban. Stubborn. Proudly themselves. Religious, sometimes.
There's a lot of singing – gorgeous surprising harmonies. CIAfrica’s members work in hiphop, r&b, and dancehall. Barboza (track 1, 14, 15) practices MCing as he walks to work (it takes him 4 hours a day). His powerful voice flips between French, English, and various African languages (Bambara, Dioula...). Most of the crew uses energetic French spiked with Nouchi (Abidjan street slang), although female MC Nasty (track 3, 7) spits a freestyle in English. Singjay Prince Abraham (track 4,8) is known for pushing dancehall into electro realms. Messengers (track 10, 11, 16) are Christian Rastafari souljahs in the long tradition of African reggae (from Alpha Blondy on down). Beat wizards Green Dog & Angelopsi architect CIAfrica's unique sound, keeping things as funky and grimy as Babi itself.