Blog February 23, 2022
São Tomé’s África Negra Releasing "Anthologia" Via Bongo Joe, April 1

The first-ever compilation of music from the islands of São Tomé and Principe, released by Bongo Joe Records under the title Léve Léve, was an early highlight of 2020, and even on a double album of killer jams, África Negra stood out. Interlocking guitar lines over a staggering, strutting rhythm, when they hit their phasers and launch into the STP-powered equivalent of seben jam, things take a turn for the truly hypnotic. Even with two straight África Negra tracks leading off the album, and another at the midway point, I wanted more. And on April 1, Bongo Joe Records will be obliging me.

Formed in 1974, África Negra gained notoriety across their island nation as it took its independence from Portugal in 1975. Their sound braided together music from across Africa and the Lusaphone world—Ghanaian highlife sweetness, slick Congolese soukous guitar lines, touches of Cuba, Haiti and Brazil—into a genre their fans began calling mama djuma. As the group hit their stride in the ‘80s, they got bigger—adding a horn section that swelled their ranks to a dozen members—and began releasing albums in what can only described as a flurry. Their debut came in 1981; in 1983 they released three whole albums, four in 1991, running their total to 15 albums with another three in ‘95 and ‘96 before the group called it quits—well, they thought it was the end--but a rebooted África Negra plans to tour Europe in 2022.

There’s a special yellow double-LP edition available for pre-order on Bandcamp now, along with a couple of tracks to stoke your appetite.

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