Blog April 15, 2014
Balani Show Super Hits: Electronic Street Parties from Mali
While Mali has long been a musical hotbed, its international output has tended to remain within the kora and calabash-heavy template created by early international successes like Ali Farke Toure and Oumou Sangare. While that perception began to gradually shift around 2000 as the Tuareg guitarists of Tinariwen gained increasing global renown, Mali's musical footprint has remained fairly stable, its most adventurous outliers coming canny neo-traditionalists like the brilliant Rokia Traore or the raw distortion of guitarists like the late Lobi Traore. If you squint hard enough, it would be possible to call the music compiled on Balani Show Super Hits neo-traditional as well. And without a doubt, it truly is. Just... in a very different way. Because, as it has essentially everywhere else on the planet, the climate-changing meteor that is digital music has slammed full-tilt  into Mali, reducing entire cultural ecosystems to dust, and forcing everyone left standing to adapt or die. The often-pirated cassettes sold by once-ubiquitous vendors have nearly disappeared, leaving in their place vast MP3 markets  and ever-shifting networks of cellphone-borne distribution. The music has shifted as well—rap (both homegrown and international) is massively popular among the youths of Bamako, and Autotuned, drum-machine-heavy pop is all the rage among the Tuaregs of the north. Balani Show has emerged in the midst of these changes. Primarily based in the urban environments of Bamako, the style has its roots in the traditional balafon music that accompanied many      

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