down and out in the mp3 market

marche cheb chebJust across from the twin towers of the Saudi Mosque, there is a market colloquially known as "hot point" or "cheb cheb" (Wolof for "thief"). On the streetside, young men huddle in groups, selling old battered cellphones from each hand, Nokia chargers trailing from pockets. Old men crouch…

Continue Reading

analog praise

context: The sun has set by 8:00pm, the hour of sundown rarely changing this close to the equator, and the paved streets are bumper to bumper after evening salah -- rusty Mercedes and aged Peugots, held together with wire and prayer, fighting along with evasive turns and blasts of the…

Continue Reading

The first cut is the deepest

I wish I could say that I unearthed this 7" buried in the stacks of mold eaten records in the backroom of some crumbling record store in Nouakchott. It almost happened like that -- and indeed the only surviving copies are at the backroom of some crumbling record store. But…

Continue Reading

everything is remix

The headquarters of Maadeny CD are in a tiny store along car choked road just next to the capital. In appearances, it's hardly different from any of the other "standards" throughout the city -- closet sized boutiques selling cassettes and cds. The wall is lined with wooden shelves of cassettes,…

Continue Reading

colors, colors, colors

Mohamed Siyed sports a signature draa and a pair of black rimmed glasses. An iggiw, a member of one of the many music families in Mauritania, Mohamed plays the wedding circuit with his family, originally from Ayoun Atrous in the Hodh, the eastern stretch of the habitable Mauritanian desert bordering…

Continue Reading