Ned Sublette is a musician, musicologist, historical writer, and a solid nominee for the Most Interesting Man in the World (NYC Arts category). This past summer, he took one of his core interests - the slave trade-enabled musical exchange between the west coast of Africa and the slave ports of the Americas, and the subsequent ocean of sounds this exchange has produced - to one of its natural sources, by travelling to Angola and the Congo for a few weeks to listen to music and talk to the people who make it. The initial result is “Hip Deep in Angola,” an incredible multi-part radio series for Afropop Worldwide that’s part investigation and part scene report. And this hour-long installment has #AfricanDrumMachines stamped all over it, focusing as it does on Kuduro and the electronic dance musics of Angola’s capital, Luanda. The episode is an excellent snapshot of urban club culture in Africa, how it functions and unfolds. One small taste of its contents is this creation myth of Kuduro’s name, which literally translates to “hard butt cheeks,” courtesy of Stefanie Alisch, the co-founder of Conferencia Kuduro.
Kuduro started to accumulate in Luanda in the early ‘90s when people went to discotheques…[and] listened to electronic music, which at the time was Chicago House but also Euro-dance. The DJs were playing vinyl records and the MCs were MCing in the sense of being a master of ceremony, holding the night together, hyping up the crowd and the dancers, and the dancers came on-stage to show their dance moves, and the dance moves had specific names….Then in 1996, the dancer and MC, Tony Amado released a song called a “Amba Kuduro Mama” which means “The Stiff Bottom, Mama” and that name stuck, and it turned into the name of the genre.
Full transcript of the interview with Alisch here. (Image: cover of the compilation “Com Fusoes 1” (Tratore Records, Brazil 2010)
So much amazing music and history here to get obsessed with. Ned Sublette is my hero.