♫♪  Jess Sah Bi & Peter One - “African Chant”

Lilting slide guitar, an endless horizon and longing for nostalgia: a lethal and enduringly wholesome aesthetic. The recapitulation of country music across the world has always been a vastly underrated thing of wonder. When Peter One looked out of his dormitory window at the University of Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, humming the folksy refrains of Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other groups seared into the American subconscious, the daring import of those themes into his own philosophy and artistry was only beginning to take shape. An eventual friendship with Jess Sah Bi, his neighbor’s uncle, led to a unique confluence of genres, where sweet harmonies and freewheeling guitar shapes gave a rustic backdrop to their lyricism surrounding inequality, apartheid and social justice.

Through the 80s, One and Sah Bi enjoyed stadium-filling success in West and Northern Africa following the success of their debut full-length, Our Garden Needs It’s Flowers. Now, their killer, uplifting guitar jaunt “African Chant” is one of the singles released by the ever-inquisitive Awesome Tapes From Africa, ahead of an official re-release of their debut album on August 17. The longer their music plays, the distance between the West African pop canon—those yearning, melancholy forms of highlife—and American folk seems to shorten. While their uplifting sound and urge to “keep on fighting” found itself unfortunately alienated in it’s disco-inflected time and place, we’re blessed to hear their music with fresh ears, once again.

Stream more tracks and pre-order the whole album here.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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