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Rhythms of West Africa

Hey y’all!

Your I-Team is currently in the mountains together — planning and collaborating on our program in Senegal, meeting with other worldwide Dragons Instructors and administration, and tying up loose ends in order to set up and ship out on our adventure with you!

I wanted to take these final days before we all meet to share a sampling of the incredibly influential and ever-evolving music scene in and around Senegal. As I’ve mentioned to some of you, my favorite musical genres include hip-hop, funk, R&B, soul, highlife, classic reggae, and Afro-Cuban jazz. Despite this eclectic-sounding mix, they all actually share their deepest roots in the rhythms of western Africa. Traveling between the West African coast, Caribbean islands, and the US, music embedded itself in different regional cultures, developed into distinct styles, and in turn influenced the styles from which they had come. This cycle continues to this day, spreading and evolving across the globe.

I highly recommend this podcast episode by Afropop Worldwide, which describes the history and evolution of Afrofunk in particular (mostly in Ghana, but it’s honestly so cool):

Additionally, here are some further links for exploration into different Senegalese, Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Malian artists that have been on my radar — in no particular order or even preference for the song I linked to:

Youssou N’Dour (Senegal):
Orchestra Baobab (Senegal):
Ali Farka Toure (Mali):
Ebo Taylor (Ghana):
Fela Kuti (Nigeria):
Joe King Kologbo (Nigeria):

Finally, here’s a great playlist of Senegalese and other West African artists made by your I-Team:

I hope you’ll choose to put some of these songs on your own playlist, potentially share your own favorites in a Yak, and get excited for the inspiring music and dance culture that exists in Senegal!

Alyx and the i-Team.