It’s not without reason that the popular image of Africa is outlined in chaos and heartbreak: political upheaval, disease, genocide, corruption and what has seemed like-in the lives of the FADER staff, at least-a continuous march towards an inexorable decline, buffeted only occasionally by good news. This is, of course, a thoroughly incomplete portrait of a continent, a people and the many, many countries and societies that make it up. The last year has shown all of us who make it a point to digest and seek out some New Shit, that Africa-in its multitudinous zigs and zags-is not just the most newsworthy continent in the world right now, but, in many ways, the most culturally influential. Traditional soukous music has threaded its way through indie rock, afrobeat now underlines folk, club music owes as much to kuduro as it does Miami bass. Rarely, however, does anyone acknowledge Africa’s incredibly relevant and totally fucking awesome exports, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do just that. We’re not proposing a rainbow at the end of a very dark day-the bleak reality of the carnage on the ground will dismiss anyone’s fantasies-but this issue is something to be taken in hand and perhaps remind the world out there that Africa is a dynamic and complex continent of civilizations and cultures before it is anything else.
Here I have to thank contributing editor Edwin “Stats” Houghton for his tireless research in putting together this issue-as well as the feature stories on South African kwaito music and our cover story on soon-to-be-your-favorite band, BLK JKS. We’ve packed the issue front to back with everything from Ghanaian hiplife to the electrifying Esau Mwamwaya to Malian throat singing and fashions from Mozambique. It’s a great set of stories and one we hope you hold onto for a very long time. It is also my very last issue as the Editor-in-Chief of The FADER. For all the exhaustion of trying to find something not only new but also, somehow, impossibly, lasting in this climate of rapid change, I couldn’t be happier or more proud to finish my tenure with this issue. I am lightheaded for all of the things I have seen and heard over the last four years. Thank you for bearing with the bullshit and, most importantly, having the faith to ride for the weird, extraordinary people and songs that have been in this magazine. It is-if you can believe it-only going to get better.