Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang – En Yay Sah

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Jankay Nabay & the Bubu Gang – “Feba”
En Yay Sah

Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang release their debut album on Luaka Bop today. We featured Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang’s EP, An Letah, on True Panther Sounds back in January. Nabay made a name for himself with his unique brand of bubu music in Sierra Leone, selling tens of thousands of cassettes. In his first recording session, he drew inspiration from Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and God. By creating an infectious dance beat, he modernized bubu, an ancient style of music that dates back centuries.

“Bubu is an old, old music, but people don’t know about it. You can add new things into the beat if you know it really well, and make your own sound out of it. Like any other beat, it has flows, ups and downs. You have to feel the swing. It starts by knowing the bass drum beats. You get the flow and then you do one, two. One is your left foot and two is your right, and then you’re dancing.” – Janka Nabay

Due to the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, Janka Nabay was forced to leave his beloved homeland and ended up in New York. Starting a band from scratch proved to be difficult while Nabay was earning a living working in fried chicken joints and food trucks along the East Coast. All the while he continued to write songs and it paid off when public radio producer Wills Glasspiegel played one of Nabay’s CDs on the air. Glasspiegel found himself entranced by this new bubu music and the story of Janka Nabay. He went down to the Bronx in an attempt to find Nabay. After the two met each other, Glasspiegel played Nabay’s music for True Panther Sounds and soon after the Bubu King EP was recorded.

Glasspiegel and Nabay teamed up together to recruit band members. They used Zebulon as their home base and the pieces began to fall into place. Syrian-born singer and bassist Boshra AlSaadi (of Saadi) turned out to be the perfect singing partner for Nabay as her clear vocals mixed well with Nabay’s gritty voice. Tony Lowe (Skeletons, Zs) began adding guitar to the duo’s live performances and he suggested they recruit Jon Leland (Skeletons) to play drums. To fill out the group, Jason McMahon was brought in for his bass playing skills (Skeletons, Chairlift) and Michael Gallope (Skeletons, Starring) was added to the lineup for his organ sounds. Doug Shaw later joined on guitar. This new bubu band rehearsed together and shared an instant connection. The Bubu Gang began to thrill audiences with their fast, electro-funk sound. Listen to “Feba” above to sample the propulsive energy found in this music. Jankay and his band will make you sweat, so grab the LP/CD/Digital today.

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