Who is Tony Allen? The essence of Afrobeat

Despite being recognized widely as one of the most influential artists of the Afrobeat music scene in Nigeria in the 1970s/1980s, it's surprising that Tony Allen has not received more attention in literature and media about this style. Luckily, his autobiography was released in 2013 with very positive reviews and we can't wait to read it. Here's an article from Another Africa about the book and a bit more about the artist.

Below is a short film about his music and the album, "Secret Agent" (released in 2009).

And here is a video with the full album for your listening pleasure. 

Soundway Records

"Soundway Records was conceived in 2002 by label owner Miles Cleret while returning from Ghana with a hoard of dusty old 45s and LPs that had mostly not been heard outside the former Gold Coast since their original release."  

Not only has Soundway Records released some of the most fabulous music, the records they have produced bring rare sounds to a global audience. We can't recommend them highly enough. 

Os Tincoãs: Traditional songs and tight harmonies from Bahia in the 1970s

The following was taken from Luiz Américo Lisboa Junior’s article, “Os Tincoãs” (translated from the Portuguese).


In the state of Bahia, Brazil, one of the strongholds of African culture is the region known as the Recôncavo, which generally refers to the rich and fertile region surrounding the Bay of all Saints. Along with agriculture, this region has also produced incomparable cultural riches, which range from longstanding cult traditions such as the Irmandade de Boa Morte (Order of Our Lady of the Good Death) and traditional samba de roda. The region has also produced many influential artists, including: Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethânia (brother and sister), Raimundo Sodré, and Roberto Mendes. Another lesser-known musical group that emerged from this region was the vocal trio, Os Tincoãs, who conquered Brazil’s musical scene of the 1960s-70s with their tight harmonies, beautiful voices and repertoire of traditional songs.

Formed in Cachoeira, Os Tincoãs — whose name refers to a bird that lives in the interior of Brazil — began their professional career in 1960 on a television show called Escada para o Sucesso (The Ladder to Success). Initially, they merely covered popular songs (primarily boleros), but in 1963 they redesigned their repertoire and began focusing on songs from the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, traditional sambas and sacred Catholic chants. Although it was clearly a mixture of styles, it was the music of the Candomblé that provided the primary aesthetic base for the group.


In 1973, they recorded a self-titled album (listen to the whole album here), which served as an important marker in the history of Brazilian music. Beyond the quality of the music and compositions, this album had characteristic vocal arrangements that came directly from the Candomblé houses of Bahia and incorporated only four instruments: the guitar, congas, agogô and xequerê. One of the highlights of the album is the song “Deixa a gira girar,” a folkloric song that the group adapted for themselves. Some other features include "Iansã Mãe Virgem," "Sabiá roxa," "Na beira do mar," and "Saudação aos orixás," which combine to form an excellent sample of traditional Afro-Brazilian music from the Bahian Recôncavo. In particular, the song “Capela da Ajuda” is particularly important as it makes explicit reference to the last of a handful of religious buildings in Bahia that were designed to look like Catholic chapels, but were actually home to African traditional rituals and worship.

After a few additional albums and the death of one of its founding members, Os Tincoãs traveled to Angola in 1983, staying and working for a week in the capital, Luanda. They quickly established themselves and participated in projects for the Angolan State Secretariat for Culture, which had recently made it a priority to identify Angolan values in the culture and music of Brazil, and to form connections and relationships between Angolan and Candomblé traditions. It was during this trip that the group recorded the album Afro Canto Coral Barroco (loosely translated as the Baroque African Chant Choir), which remained unedited and was only finally released for the first time in 2003, 20 years after it was recorded.

After the death of the last remaining original member in 2000, the group was disbanded, but it left a legacy of some of the most wonderful pieces of Brazilian popular music and essential examples of the African roots of Brazilian music.

Here's one treasure from their 1973 self-titled album.

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba

Mama Africa is a beautiful documentary that details the rich artistic and political life of South African singer, Miriam Makeba.

"An unforgettable portrait of Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), the world-famous South African artist and civil right activist, who devoted her life to promoting peace and justice and fighting racism around the planet. A figurehead of the Black African movement in exile, her music and daily practice incarnated the hopes and fears of Africa through the convulsive 20th century, so that she has come to be considered the voice and mother of the Continent." - Beatriz Leal Riesco (Read more on OkayAfrica)

Below is the trailer and the full film is currently available to stream on Netflix

Egypt's New Craze: Electro Chaabi

"While Egypt has traditionally been the beating heart of classical Arabic music, with legendary singers such as Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez, a new craze is taking over the Arab world’s most populous nation: Electro Chaabi. Inspired by the down-and-dirty music played at street parties and weddings, this new populist dance form combines a punk spirit with a hip hop attitude set against a furious cascade of drums, bass and electronic vocals." -  from MonoDuo Films website

This film was recently shown at a few select festivals in the United States, including the Fist Up Film Festival in Oakland, where the filmmaker -- Hind Meddeb -- was in attendance and allowed viewers to ask questions after the film. It seems to have been shown at only a few festivals in Europe and the United States this year, so keep your eyes peeled for showings near you. 

Read more about the film from the Seattle International Film Festival, learn about Chaabi music, and watch the trailer below. 

Sweet Barbarians and Tropicalismo

If you're interested in Brazil and its music -- and Bahia in particular -- one of our favorite films is Outros (Doces) Bárbaros (2002) directed by Andrucha Waddington. The film documents a reunion between the four incredible artists who performed on the formative album, Doces Bárbaros (released in 1976), including: Gilberto GilMaria BethâniaGal Costa and Caetano Veloso


These artists were at the center of Brazil's counter-culture movement of the 1960s and remain highly influential to this day in Brazil. The entire film is available on YouTube (linked below), however it unfortunately doesn't have English subtitles.

A related film, called Os Doces Bárbaros, was released in 1976. This full film is also available on YouTube, but again without English subtitles.