African music fans who happen to live in the Netherlands but can't make it to London for the smorgasbord of talent lined up for Africa Unplugged this weekend need not gnash their teeth in frustration; the mash-up festival known as Metro54 is back in Amsterdam with a vengeance on the 1st of September. It might not match Africa Unplugged for scale, but it makes up for that in its eclecticism, progressiveness and punch.
The festival is about visual arts, word art, music and dance, and about 150 artists and musicians (from Africa and Europe) will be performing that day between 1pm and midnight (full line-up HERE), but we suspect TIA fans will make a beeline for the Boom Africa! and Kuduro Lisbon programmes where emphasis, music-wise, is on dance.
If you're not deep into the percussive Angolan electronic dance music known as kuduro, you might not be familiar with the names of most of the musicians making this music. But that's not a problem, as you've probably heard of the Portuguese-Angolan band Buraka Som Sistema. They're the ones who popularised progressive kuduro in Portugal and elsewhere in Europe, and Kalaf (poet, writer, musician and the brains behind Buraka Som Sistema) is curating the Kuduro Lisbon programme, pretty much a guarantee of top notch talent. Besides curating, however, Kalaf will also be premiering his newly recorded twist on African electronic music.
Artists in this programme include DJ Marfox (Lisbon), who will be filling the 16:30 - 17:30 slot with his very kuduro-techno blend.
Popular kuduro band and dance group Pupilos Do Kuduro will be throwing down between 19:30 and 20:15 with their kuduro-house-techno style.
Kuduro is about more than music and dance though, which is why Angolan poet, filmmaker, and performance and video artist Nástio Mosquito will also be showcasing an installation inspired by the sounds and movements of kuduro. With Nástio's rep, you can expect something suitably provocative.
In case you're wondering why so much kuduro, it's because this year's festival spotlights music bubbling underground in the melting pots of London and Lisbon, but with an strong emphasis on music from the motherland.
Baloji, arguably the most innovative Congolese musician working today, is a man to whom TIA visitors need no introduction. Known for his very distinctive blend of hip-hop, soul and rumba, Baloji will also be premiering some newly-recorded material in the Boom Africa! programme.
If like us you partied to Boomslang, the collabo between South African artist Okmalumkoolkat and LV a couple of years ago, you should pick up Get A Grip, their most recent EP release out on Hyperdub. Their "South London meets South Africa" album Sebenza will be out in early September, but you can catch Okmalumkoolkat live in the 21:30 - 22:30 slot.
Rapper, poet, actor and musician Gery Mendes aka GMB is based in Rotterdam, but his roots are in the West African island of Cape Verde, and you can catch him live on the Mash & Go stage at 21:00
The Amsterdam-based DJ collective L'Afrique Som Systeme (Asheru, Ashwin en MC Papa Ghana) have been instrumental in spreading the gospel of urban African music in the Netherlands for some years now, and you can expect a very lively afrobeats set (18:00 – 19:30) from these guys, with live performances by Papa Ghana, who is currently working on his EP The Mandingo.
Last but definitely not the least, Ghanaian band R2Bees. We trust most TIA visitors already helped themselves to the band's Agyeiii remix EP. Turn up on the 1st and there's a good chance you'll get to hear the original live when the group takes the stage.
€25 gains you access to all the shows, so that's your 1st of September sorted out. Don't use up all your energy at Metro54 though, because kicking off at midnight and carrying on till 5am the next morning is the Jamaica meets Africa party known as Jamrock. No multi-disciplinary business here: this is pure dance all the way - dancehall, reggae and Afro dance music.
Where else can you "Bruk it dung" to Yori Yori or Azonto? Venue: Paradiso. Tickets: €15. Turn up and party!
Your DJs: DJ Waxfiend, Steesko, Drivah, Henry X, Dr Ray, G Man Int., MC’s Kalibwoy & Gary Black.