Dj Gioumanne is back. The enigmatic dj behind last year’s ‘Afro Cosmic Club’ (listen here), a critically acclaimed mix compiling unheard African and Euro-Afro sounds of the early 1980s inspired by Italian Cosmic Disco deejays of the era, had forever been promising an update to his masterpiece. We finally got him to deliver a new mix live on air in the monthly African hip hop radio show at Red Light Radio.
‘Afro Cosmic Disco Funk’ has a different focus from its predecessor. While ‘Afro Cosmic Club’ balances between the analog and digital sounds of the early 80s, its follow-up sounds more raw with 70s afro disco, island funk and afrobeat obscurities, loosely mixed together and played out in their entirety. About one third of the tunes presented here are from the (African) diaspora worldwide, including Surinam, the former Dutch colony in South America, Guyana, Barbados and Haiti, but there’s plenty of bloodlines connecting the cuts on this mix.
Everything in these crates comes from original vinyl in Gioumanne’s collection (ripped to play in Serato) and most of the tracks are rarities, there are even six ‘ungoogleable’ records like Sunbust’s ‘Vijana’ (one of only a handful of psych-funk tracks ever recorded in Tanzania), two jams from the semi-acoustic second album of Congolese-Beninese outfit Les Ya Toupas du Zaire, a disco tune by the mysterious Hammatan, a track from the only album by the Godfathers (protegees of Osibisa) and a Haitian disco-kompa groover.
There’s a little bit of proto rap from Nigeria on the Super Doeths song (1985), the best song title ever (and sleeve) in ‘Chics & Chicken’ by Esbee Family, crazy kaseko synths on ‘Sik joe skien’, Congolese jerk recorded in Germany by Jam Kishy, and loads of crackle on the Afrofunk LP (which was reissued earlier this year, buy a copy!)
Dedicated to the art of record digging and sampling in hip hop, here’s ‘Afro Cosmic Disco Funk’.
Stream the mix below.
Download (128 kb/s mp3) using this direct link (right-click and ‘save as…’).
Track list see towards the bottom of this page
Abdo – Ah ya zen (Egypt)
From the cradle of African science comes Abdo, who released a brilliant album called ‘Salma’ recorded in Sweden in the mid 70s with a mostly Swedish team including Björn Json Lindh who released some jazzfunk gems on his own. Their collabo was released in Sweden and France but is very hard to find nowadays. ‘Ah ya zen’ transforms from a semi traditional Egyptian melody into a heavy headnodding groove.
Ruth Koenders & Hugo Landolf – Boni doro (Surinam)
This song from the South American country of Surinam (a former Dutch colony) was recorded for the 3rd edition of Suripop, the national song festival. ‘Boni doro’ refers to the legend of Boni, leader of the Maroons (escaped slaves living in the inland of Surinam up to today) who fought the Dutch in the 18th century. Boni was finally captured and decapitated, but his head fell into the river, and the spot where this happened is called Boni Doro.
Young Ones of Guyana – Sing a simple song (Guyana)
From Surinam’s neighbouring country of Guyana comes this funk tune, a cover of a Sly Stone song from 1968, on an LP filled with calypso style jams. The LP containing ‘Sing a simple song’ is inexcusably expensive when it shows up online. This French release has a sleeve with a white lady dancing under a palm tree, and the group name hidden away in a corner, which makes one think the Young Ones were being marketed in France as exotic elevator music.
Afrofunk – Farewell to Ibusa (Ghana)
One of the best Ghanaian afrobeat records, the LP ‘Body music’ by Afrofunk was finally reissued earlier this year. We heard rumours that this band was somehow linked to the Funkees from Nigeria, not sure how much of that is true.
Sagbohan Danialou – Djessou (Benin)
Under the radar LP from Benin, even if there’s an entire documentary about the artist – ‘L’homme orchestre: Sagbohan Danialou’. More proof that not everything groovy from Benin is called Orchestre Poly-Rythmo.
Fotso – Frenchy girl (Cameroon)
We don’t know much about the artist behind this dirty little disco funk jam, but it’s possibly the same guy who also did the ‘Piketa groovin’ 12 inch (proto rap from early 80’s Cameroon) as ‘Fots & Byke’.
The Godfathers – Ebe ye yie ni (Ghana)
From the very obscure untitled album released in the UK by protegees of Osibisa, the semi mainstream Afro rock/disco band. Features Mac Tontoh playing the trumpet.
Esbee Family – Chics and chicken (Nigeria)
These guys are just too much… look at the sleeve, indeed it displays ‘Chicks and chicken’, and why not make a song about the best things in life. This underrated bass heavy joint was also pressed on 12 inch. Just wait for an European dj to cut this up in Logic and release it as a bootleg edit.
Hammatan – Asaba town (Nigeria)
Also known as Ozo, this band made up of Nigerian and British musicians recorded a so-called loft classic (the track Anambra is often mentioned in connection to David Mancuso, a legendary NY deejay whose influence is felt in today’s dj culture). They also recorded an album called ‘Disco town’ which was believed to only having been released in Nigeria in tiny quantities – three heavy disco cuts on there, so it became somewhat of a collector’s item. Turns out the LP was also released in UK but under a totally different group name: Hammatan. This doesn’t make the album any easier to find though. ‘Asaba town’ is a discofied tribute to the capital of Delta state.
Super Doeths – We got to dance (Nigeria)
This duo was previously rescued from obscurity by Uchenna Ikonne in our ‘Nigerian rap: the first decade‘ mix. Here’s another song from their LP, again containing a bit of Nigerian rapping avant la lettre.
Basa Basa – Konyo (Ghana)
From the vinyl album that makes Japanese collectors drool, here’s another mad groove – check out Dj Gioumanne’s previous mix for another excerpt. If anything deserves a reissue it’s this album, only ever released in Ghana as Basa Basa Experience – Together We Win, and as Basa Basa – Homowo on a tiny label in the Netherlands.
The Outfit – Use me (Barbados)
A bit of island funk by the group led by Phil ‘Bumpy’ Dino. They were originally from Barbados but apparently spent time touring in Canada in the mid 70s. This cover of the Bill Withers song can easily compete with the original.
Ojeda Penn – Brotherson (instrumental) (USA)
Ojeda’s first lp ‘Happiness’ is sought after for the boogie track Brotherson. Little known to the world, there are some copies of the record (almost indistinguishable from the outside) that have an alternate version of that song which is indeed quite different from the original. It’s longer but most importantly the vocals have been removed and the song is turned into a massive jazz funk jam.
Les Ya Toupas du Zaire – Zaiko wa wa (DR Congo)
The same guys who did ‘Je ne bois pas beaucoup’, a bass heavy analog soukous jam with funny lyrics which was reissued by Strut Records on the Sofrito compilation. Their second LP is quite different though; all instrumental and semi unplugged, it feels more like a spontaneous jam in the studio with some psych effects added.
Jean Sejour et son Cumbo – Araignee (disco) (Haiti)
We don’t really know anything about Jean Sejour, and we can only hope that this is not a bogus vintage record residing in Dj Gioumanne’s crate. Although, you can’t really make up this fusion of Haiti kompa sounds and disco funk, right?
Langa Langa – Freedom is the thing (South Africa / US / Netherlands)
American soul singer Arthur Conley moved to the Netherlands in the 1970’s and somewhat later in his career when he was known as Lee Roberts he teamed up with Glenn Helstone from South African band Jabula and a team of unnamed musicians to record this spiritual funk jam. Released on a semi private label only in the Netherlands, it’s just one of those ungoogleable tunes that takes heavy digging to unearth, and so did Dj Gioumanne.
Sunburst – Vijana (Tanzania)
Much of the music produced in 1970’s Tanzania was heavily influenced by Afro Cuban sounds and Congolese music of the era. Unlike neighbouring Kenya, not much of soul and modern jazz made its way into the sound of Dar es Salaam of the era. But Sunburst (also called Sunbust on some of their releases) were different, their music had a heavy soul and funk edge and a lot of psych sounds going on, while the lyrics were often educational and in line with Nyerere’s Ujamaa (African socialism). A few of their songs were released abroad (‘Black is beautiful’ is being sold on Ebay and Discogs for over 100 euro) but they also put out records back home, such as the heavy ‘Vijana’ on Tanzanian Film Company’s own record label TFC.
Afoe Sensi – Afrika (Surinam)
A dope tune on ‘Wan dee sa kon’, the first album by cultural organization Afoe Sensi, the rest of the album is heavily rooted in traditional music from Surinam such as kawina.
Dany Play – Leonide (French Guyana)
Just like Congolese singer Pepe Kalle appeared to have a weakness for East African girls (listen to songs like ‘Shikamoo seye’ in which he does some name dropping), Dany Play from French Guyana seems to have lost his heart to a Surinam girl on the single ‘Fawaka/Leonide’ and both sides are sung in a mix of French and Sranang (the Surinamese language). ‘Fawaka’ was reissued on a Sofrito compilation, but the b-side should be dug up by getting your hands dirty in the flee market.
Stalat International – Sik joe skien (Surinam)
Obscure kaseko track with dirty synths from Surinam. The singer of this group also released a solo album which is total mayhem mixed with extreme cheesiness, as is the case with many seventies vinyl releases from Surinam. Stalat are the group posing on the cover photo of this article.
Akin Nathan’s Ijama – K’ale san wa (Nigeria)
Under the radar track from an under the radar album by sax player Akin Nathan who featured Dizzy K (by now a Nigerian boogie legend) on background vocals.
Rick Asikpo – Jam (Nigeria)
Within the deviant diggers niche that is Nigerian boogie, this is a bit of a classic tune and somehow it showed up in Gioumanne’s mix, too.
Les Ya Toupas du Zaire – Mbandaka (DR Congo)
Another one from the ‘missing’ Ya Toupas album.
Jam Kishy – Jean Jean (DR Congo)
Surprisingly, to date there is no Congolese funk compilation on the market. There are quite a few tunes out there that are decidedly not rumba, soukous or other Afro-Cuban related, but they seem to go unnoticed most of the time. The first albums by Abeti would be a good start if you want to learn, but there’s the occasional random release by an otherwise unknown artist that makes one realize there is much more to be found. The ‘Jean jean’ single was released in France and in Germany with different sleeves. If you’re quick you may scoop this up for cheap on the web, there’s a few originals floating around but not for long obviously, once this mix does the rounds.
Sonny Okosuns Ozzidizzim – Adesua (Nigeria)
Known to most for his classic reggae cut ‘Fire in Soweto’, Sonny (RIP) had a few very good afrobeat inspired albums to his name, especially his first two. Somehow his 1976 debut is still not recognized as the classic that it really is, there’s more heat on ‘Ozidism’ but Adesua makes a good introduction.