African Music Styles: 
What Is Mbalax?

Fusion Of Traditional Griot And Modern Western Music


You think you don't know what mbalax is? Chances are that you've heard this popular African music style without even knowing: Youssou N'Dour, Senegal's most famous singer has been the leading promoter of this African genre music for 30 years.

So, if you like the style that Youssou plays, you are going to love mbalax music and enjoy exploring some of the many other great artists of this genre!

It is the most popular music style in Senegal and GambiaAfrica Map Senegal. Both young and old people are among the many loyal fans. Why? Probably because it's a successful mix of traditional African and modern Western styles:

A bit of history


For centuries, the traditional musicians (griots) of the Wolof people have been singing praise songs with clear, high-pitched voices accompanied by sabar and other talking drums. With the arrival of the French colonial masters, Western Latin music, Jazz, Funk and even Rock and Pop started to influence and dominate the music scene. People loved the foreign styles so much, that their own traditional music was at risk to disappear.

But after the country had gained independence from the French, the nation slowly started to take pride in their African identity again. The result of this was an interesting fusion of cultures in the 1970s:

It was most likely the group Etoile de Dakar who first incorporated traditional sabar rhythms into their modern songs and Youssou N'Dour continued to shape the style more than any other artist.

What it sounds like


Mbalax is modern enough for us Westerners to understand and traditional enough to get a glimpse of West Africa's rich culture: Unusual voices singing in the Wolof language - An ethnic drum beat here and there - Electric guitars imitating traditional sabar rhythms.

This is highly addictive, popular music with an exotic touch that makes you want to pack your bags and explore Senegal! Here is something to start with:

  • Insider Tip:
    Senegalese fans swear on classics like Youssou N'Dour, Thione Seck, Ismael Lô and Omar Pene... You can't go wrong with these artists. Just run a quick search to find their albums:



List of artists:


A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S  T  U   V  W  X  Y  Z

A

Abdou Guité Seck
Aby Ndour
Adja Maissa Coura
Ady Thioune
Alias Diallo
Alioune Mbaye Nder
Alioune kassé et les kassé stars
Ami Colle
Amy Mbengue
Arame
Assane Gaye
Assane Mboup
Assane Ndiaye

B

Babacar Dieng
Babacar Faye
Babacar Seck
Bakane Seck
Bass Taye
Boy Marone

C

Ceddo
Cheikh Lô
Cherif Mbaw
Coumba Arame
Coumba Gawlo

D

Daba Seye
Demba Dia
Dieuf Dieul
Djanbutu Thiossane

E

El Gueye
Etoile de Dakar

F

Fallou Dieng
Fatou Guewel
Fatou Laobe

I

Ismael Lô

J

Jamm

K

Khadija

L

Lemzo Diamono

M

Mamadou L Maiga
Mapathe Diop
Mapenda Seck
Maty Thiam Dogo
Mbaye Dieye Faye
Metzo Djatah
Mika Gomis
Missal

N

Nder
Ndeye Diarra Gueye
Ndongo Lô
Ngone Ndiaye

O

Omar Pene
Ousmane Diop
Ouza (Ousmane Diallo)

P

Papa Ndiaye
Pape Diouf
Pape Niang

S

Salam Diallo
Secka
Sidy Samb
Souleymane Faye
Super Cayor de Dakar
Super Diamono

T

Thio Mbaye
Thione Seck
Titi

V

Viviane

W

Waflash
Wapyrat
Wato Sita

X

Xalam
Xalat de Dakar

Y

Yoro Ndiaye
Youssou N'Dour
Yves Niang



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