Moussa “Tchingou” Eggour is one of the most ambitious younger (under 25) Agadez Tuareg guitarists, eager for success. Raised in the midst of the Saharan internet revolution, he runs his own social media (something that the older crop of musicians don’t know how to do). He has his own Youtube channel and Facebook. He also has no qualms about autotune. The use of vocal effects and programmed beats are not entirely new in Tuareg music, attributed to proximity to Nigeria. Kader Tanout records exclusively with the effect, and Mdou Moctar’s debut release Anar is entirely autotuned (recorded in Sokoto). Of the handful of studios in Agadez, most are owned and operated by Nigerians, or at the very least, have engineers trained there.
Recently, in a nice summation of these phenomena, Tchingou sent me a video of him performing a cover of an Indian song. Tchingou explained that he’s been doing a number of covers of Indian songs. The lyrics are Tamashek but the melody and structure remain the same. Bollywood films are popular throughout the world, and Agadez is no different. But the lineage of transmission takes a few steps to get up North: Bollywood filtered to Hausa Northern Nigeria to Agadez Tuareg Guitar. Furthermore, the track Tum Hi Ho is the title song from the 2013 Indian film, Aashiqui 2 – which itself, is based on the 1954 & 1976 Hollywood musical “A Star is Born.”
In writing about Tuareg guitar, the term “new generation” crops up so much, it’s practically part of the template for every band’s written press material. It would be easy to throw shade at this nomenclature. There’s a lot of pressure (in the West) to differentiate any Tuareg musician against the plethora of other artists. But most of the time it doesn’t mean a thing. New generations come every few years, and there’s always a band waiting in the eaves to pick up third rate wedding contracts. The genre has no huge seismic shifts, certainly none led by a single band – but every year shows emerging trends, championed by artists who can take the latest tools of creation and distribution and truly transform the genre.