World Music Day Throwback Special: Mory Kante vs Loverush UK (Ronski Speed remix)
In celebration of World Music Day today, it is befitting for us to travel back to MOBO’s historic roots- Africa. The vast African continent has a phenomenally rich music heritage. North, South, East or West, each region has its own diverse and unique musical traditions that have survived the test of time.
West Africa is renowned for its griot tradition. Griots or djelis are learned historians, storytellers, poets and musicians who have handed down their oral tradition for a thousand years. Music has been an integral part of this oral tradition, with griots being highly skilled musicians. They have a vast repertoire of traditional songs, rhythms and melodies which have taken years to master. One of the most venerated modern day griots is Mory Kanté.
Born in Guinea to a griot of family of repute, Kanté began his griot training under his father El Hadj Djelifode who was leader of the griots of Kissidougou. Kanté as a child learned to play his family’s emblematic instrument- the balafon or bala. The young Kanté was later sent to Mali to live with his Aunt, where he completed his griot training. It was in Mali’s capital Bamako that Kanté experimented with different music styles and picked up the guitar and kora.
In 1971, Kanté joined popular Malian group Rail Band and thus began Kanté’s professional career in music. By the 1980s, the musician had established himself as a successful solo artiste respected for his exemplary musicianship and congruently bringing music traditions of Africa to the masses.
“Yéké Yéké” the 1987 single from ‘Akwaba Beach’, is a case in point. The track was an instant global success, reaching the number one chart position in multiple countries. “Yeke Yeke” became the first African single to sell in excess of one million copies and is widely regarded as Kanté’s signature track.
Over the years, there have been a number of remixes of “Yéké Yéké” including German Techno duo Hardfloor’s 1995 remix released on Pete Tong’s FFRR Records. In 2011, Progressive Electronica outfit Loverush UK! released a series of Mory Kanté vs Loverush UK! mixes of the track. The UK producers known for their slamming remix of Paul Oakenfold’s “Firefly” have been steadily cementing their reputation. “A great cutting edge sound that really is on the mark for today's Club and Radio, I would highly recommend Loverush UK! for original productions and remixes," states Oakenfold. I concur and one particular mix of “Yéké Yéké” caught my eye- Ronski Speed’s.
The acclaimed German DJ and producer has been enthralling the EDM community since the late ‘90s. His 2000 remix of Sonorous’ “Glass Garden” was a huge club hit and subsequent remixes and original productions released over the years have established Ronski Speed as a producer of repute. Speed has masterfully remixed the Kanté mashup and the result is absolutely stunning.The essence of the original 1987 track remains, further accentuated with a modern Electronic burst of sonic energy that compounds the rhythm and delineates the bass. The result? A highly infectious cross cultural, cross genre, jewel of a track.
Music has the power to transcend geographical boundaries; the power to unite. Mali, UK, Germany- today’s Throwback is a glorious multi-cultural collaborative illustration of music’s might.
Author:Reema Kumari Jadeja