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 Gambia.
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
by sabar and other talking drums. With the arrival of the
French colonial masters,
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
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
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