Man, I spotted this music video via Live From The Coast a blog for the design company Gold Coast Trading Co., and it got me wondering where this song has been my whole life!?! According to Dr. Alban's Wikipedia page, the Stockholm based Nigerian dentist was a chart topper in Europe in the 1990's, selling millions of records around the world. I'm surprised that he wasn't more known in United States during that era.
Perhaps at that time the US wasn't as open to foreign pop as today's hyper connected world. But, seeing as Afrocentrism was a big trend in hip hop around that time, I'm surprised that there wasn't more Africa/US Hip Hop/House collaborations. Jamaica definitely was represented in US popular conscious and even Spanish language Ragga-Hip/House songs stick out from my memory. Africa beyond a symbol of cultural pride, had not crept into the minds of the general American public. That's too bad because, Hello Africa seems like it would have been a perfect song for that time.
That's not to say some folks didn't try their hand at promoting African Rap. Hollywood BASIC, the Walt Disney Company's hip hop label signed rap group Zimbabwe Legit, but the label struggled and the group never really blew up in the US market.
Interestingly the Promo 12" for Doin' Damage in my Native Language contains a remix by an early in his career DJ Shadow, which uses a sample from an early attempt by a US Hip Hop artist to connect to Africa through more than Afrocentric symbolism.
In this tune Doug E. Fresh recounts a trip he takes to Senegal, and predicts Senegal's affinity towards rap with a guest introduction from a vocalist in Wolof.
It's no secret that Hip Hop is the biggest music amongst youth around the world right now, and around Africa that's no exception. In recent years African artists have started to creep into the fold, and with increasing immigration of Africans to the US, 1st and 2nd generation American Africans like K'naan and Wale combine their hip hop influence with influences from their or their parent's homelands (check out many French hip hop groups for a long history of this.) Black American artists are still revisiting their Afrocentrism, as evidenced by Nas and Damian Marley's latest effort, but I'm still waiting for that cross over tune by an African artists that will take the US mainstream by storm!
In the meantime, Africa's World Cup begins this week, and appropriately Dr. Alban's tune got the 2010 World Cup Remix treatment in the EP, Hello South Africa! Buy it on iTunes, and get warmed up for Friday!