Moussa Doumbia – Keleya

Moussa Doumbia was born in Mali and made a huge impact with his brand of African funk during the 1970s. While his approach was different to Fela Kuti’s afrobeat, the long, driven grooves were similarly hypnotic. He rapped, spitted, wailed, and spoke lyrics over some heavy bass driven numbers. Moussa was also a sax player like Fela and he would do anything to keep the music happening all night. His energy seemed endless when he performed as he would go hours without a break.

Moussa had a place in Treichville, Ivory Coast not far from the club Boule Noire. He would play there every night for the locals, mostly Dioula people from Northern Ivory Coast & Southern Mali, for which he would sing in his native language, the Dioula. Treichville was an important crossroads for the local music industry and concentrated most of the important producers & record retailers. Lido Musique, Sacodis, Saffiedine and other pioneers were there when records were an affordable passion for many people.

Although Moussa played a brand of African American funk, it wasn’t the most popular imported music among his audiences in Ivory Coast and Mali. The public usually preferred the Afro Cuban style from New York, Puerto Rico or Cuba. His style of funk music ended up taking off years later when his sounds hit the dance floors in London, Paris and New York. This under-appreciated artist should have sold tons of records and gained the cult following that Fela received. Record labels are beginning to reissue Moussa Doumbia’s music as his sound has become massively popular around the globe as the interest in 70s African music continues to rise. An excellent collection entitled Keleya was released several years ago and is a definite must have for any Moussa fan. To get a taste, have a listen to the long LP version of “Keleya” below.

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