Best of The Beat June 11, 2016
Best of The Beat on Afropop: Africa 101--A Tour of African Music

For those Afropop readers who may be just getting into African music, or for a refresher course on the history and varieties of the continent’s popular music, here’s a helpful overview circa 1984 by The Beat’s Jack Kolkmeyer, then a D.J. on KLSK-Santa Fe, when much of this music was newly reaching an international audience.

Beat3#6TourP9It’s a snapshot of the era when now-legendary artists like King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Manu Dibango, Mahotella Queens and Thomas Mapfumo were just reaching American ears in a bewildering deluge of styles, nations and genres, with the adventurous pre-Internet cooperation of radio programs, club D.J.s, concert presenters, labels and record shops. We're talking vinyl and cassettes, folks! It was an exciting time, as new discoveries seemingly surfaced on a weekly basis, the beginning of the tidal wave of music from the African continent and diaspora we never imagined would come.Beat3#6BetterRecords


The Beat was just getting its sea legs on African music as well, after its birth in 1982 as a reggae-centric publication, and this issue, Vol. 3#4, with the Fela Kuti cover and extensive African music content, became a prototype for the next 25 years of its brilliantly diverse coverage to follow.



The website Awesome Tapes From Africa offers a taste of the African artists we were listening to the '80s, some still famous today, and some who have dropped off the radar. It's a glimpse of where we were when this "Tour of African Music" was published. It's a fun site; you can stream and enjoy the cassette tracks. By the way, Jack Kolkmeyer is still radioactive, with a program on Fifth Wall Radio called "Brave New World."


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