Back when I did my Kuduro pt. II column I intimated that there was not enough Coupe Decale out there on par with Bablee, who at the time had just dropped a 12-inch on Radioclit’s Uppercuts imprint. There was some truth in that implication but also some strategy: kind of like when your girl runs herself down as a way of fishing for compliments (well anyway, she does that with me). The squeaky wheels get the steel, homies, and sure enough, within a week I had Decale partisans sending me mp3s and recommendations, thereby making this Coupe 2: The Electric Boogaloo inevitable. So to make long talking short, here are some of my personal joints from the small deluge of coupe anthems that followed.
DJ Arafat, “Femmes”
Bablee, “Bablee Samuz”
Afrikan Boy, “Flap Your Clothing”
Kedjevara, “Ton Pied Mon Pied”
Kaysha, “Good Life 2005”
Download: Ghetto Palms Coupe2 Blend
It seemed like an auspicious time to drop it this week because riding the crest of the Ivorian wave was this trailer for a forthcoming documentary on Decale music and the attendant dance/fashion phenomenon. It appears to go pretty deep, and according the film-maker Osita Aneke, who I tracked down through my cohort Chief Boima, will be hitting the festival circuit in the spring.
Boima also put me up on the DJ Arafat track which sets the blend off. Though “Femmes” is easily my favorite, Arafat has turned out to be on of the key dudes who can be counted on for hitting, non-corny Decale tracks, along with Kaysha, Serpent Noire (Radioclit picks) and of course Bablee. Bablee and Kaysha have a very similar style which involves big Final Countdown meets Axel F synths and drum machines going afro-percussion crazy on the doubled-up Decale afterbeat (and every other beat). Maybe because of the title but “Good Life” actually reminds me of Detroit techno in the “Beyond the Dance” vein, and I tend to prefer this space age but maximalist approach. Like I was saying to Boima, a lot of Decale follows the same rule for me as soca: the higher the production values, the less I fuck with it. Get a full band who can actually play their instruments involved and the results can be questionable, but when it’s made by some 12-yr old soundboy leaning on the triangle and airhorn I’m up for it.
Kedjevara is definitely an exception to that rule. His (their?) sound is deeper and more folkish, almost merengue in instrumentation, but has both the fire and the depth to completely overpower the production values, which is how it should be, on Ghetto Palms at least. Even better, this particular track is a release on my favorite new label. Akwaaba Music is an LA-based “fair trade” outfit run by a dude named Benjamin Lebrave, who shines a light on African music and splits profits 50/50 with the artists—and for that: beaucoups respects.