Ghanian Angola? Kuduro Azonto? Seems pretty unlikely on the surface of it, but there it is, chanted again and again in the chorus of the collaboration between Angolan superstar Cabo Snoop and Ghanian hitmaker Atumpan. The track has been out for a little while, and sonically it falls mostly on the azonto/afrobeats side of things, but in its basic promise, it reflects one of the most fascinating trends modern African pop music, namely the possibility for the creation of a trans-regional pop sound anchored in the pounding beats and dancefloor logic of electronic music. It’s not an impossibility- Cabo himself had a massive international hit with “Windek” and the sounds of Azonto are becoming ever more popular across the continent.
Of course, there have always been individual stars able to appeal to enormous audiences- Fela, Marley, Makeba. But the creation of anything like a shared sound hasn’t really occurred since the Congolese domination of central and southern Africa during the 70’s and 80’s created a lingua franca that applied equally from Cameroon to Kenya. If such a thing were to happen in coming years, it would probably be as much the result of technical innovation and internet facilitated dissemination as the kind of aesthetic breakthrough that occurred in the Congo. The likely lack of a national center would almost certainly result in a more heterogeneous sound, perhaps resembling something like America’s current top 100 (where country, r’n’b, pop, rock, and rap all rub shoulders interchangeably). All of this is, for now, pure speculation. So in the meantime? Get some Ghana all over your Angola.