gao rap

Digging at the mp3 market in Bamako, I had the vendor send me over a folder entitled GAO RAP. Containing, of course, what the title says - Rap music from the Northern Mali city of Gao. Which in itself would not be so remarkable if it wasn't for what rap…

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do the right thing

Pheno S. is a young rapper from Gao, Mali. I first heard Pheno's songs drifting about as mp3s through cellphones and memory cards (one track was included on a mixtape Saharan Cellphones Vol. 2 and on the upcoming LP). The standout track was labeled "FENOMENAL MIX", a slick produced autotuned…

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the peace

Niafounke is a dusty town in the North of Mali nestled along the banks of the river Niger and a few hours from the historic Timbouctou. It's legendary in its own rite, renowned as hometown of Ali Farka Touré -- a man who even in life had become myth, a…

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give up the goods (just step)

Takamba is a place. It's also a slow ghostly dance, a distinctive staggered rhythm clapped on a calabash, and a gritty distorted terhardent. "Ali" Ag Amoumine doesn't live in Takamba, but 250 kilometers up river in Timbouctou. He's also not Sonrai, the ethnicity credited with the creation of Takamba, though…

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first they built the road, then they built the town

Sahl la Guindo, Ndjarka, NIAFOUNKE Once, when the first rains began to fall on the desert, I left Timbouctou. The route I traveled, one of a handful of possibilities none more glamorous than the rest, is traversable only by desert craft, the pale horse of the landcruiser -- choking and…

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