Hip Deep June 20, 2024
Mbalax Fever

From the 1970s to the present—hip-hop and Afrobeats notwithstanding—the most beloved and popular music in Senegal has been and remains mbalax. Mbalax grew out of a scene where urban bands Dakar bands like the Star Band and Orchestra Baobab were experimenting with Afro-Cuban music, funk, jazz and other foreign styles, blending and mixing them with local traditions. Perhaps inevitably, Wolof sabar drumming entered the mix in a big way, and mbalax was born. Sabar drums, played with one stick and one hand, deliver complex, cracking rhythms that are the backbone of this dynamic genre. This Hip Deep program traces the emergence and development of mbalax with insights from ethnomusicologist Patricia Tang, author of Masters of the Sabar. Produced by Simon Rentner.

Afropop Weigh in on Afropop's digital future and download an exclusive concert from the archives—free!