What do we listen to that’s not in English? A lot, actually. Maybe it’s because we work with international young artists that we’re exposed to an eclectic mix of music. (Thanks, students). We wanted to surprise our precious Parisian dancer Ines with some French music. We found the infectious French singer Aya Nakamura and have been non stop listening to her ever since.
They dub Aya’s music as Afropop. She comes from a long line of griotte, traditional Malian poets, storytellers or singers, so the influence is organic. Her album “Nakamura” has the Afro rthyms, but also hints of dancehall (Jamaica) and Soca (Trinidad and Tobago). On a side note, you’ll hear a lot of African influences in French music, and dancers also pull from the dancehall moves pioneered by Jamaican dancers.
Our team speaks three words of French combined. So what grabbed us with “DjaDja” was the melody. It starts slow with her singing and synthesized, soft steel drums in the background pushing her along. The song is guided by this specific drum beat. Aya switches back and forth from singing to soft style rap, changing her vocal range to give us little surprises.
When they say “Anything in French sounds beautiful.” It’s true. “DjaDja” is actually a name of a dude, a low-life liar dude at that. Aya is putting him in check for spreading rumors about romantic liaisons that just never happened.
“There’s no way Djadja
I’m not your whore Djadja
As if you ever had sex with me”
We picked the song this month in particular, Women’s History Month, because her song was used as a protest anthem at women’s marches in France. It's simply an anthem to not tolerate being degraded, belittled or put down because you're better than that. Well that's a message we all can get behind.
There are all winners on Aya’s album, and not one “meh” song to be found.
“La Dot” is another favorite and a love song…and the video has English subtitles.
Some other favorites are the nonstop dance track “Pookie” pushed by the snaps and deep beat. Then “Oula” because the song gives us a warm hug with the soft piano that accompanies her pretty voice.
Slowly, too slowly in our opinion, the U.S. musical tastes are growing up and out. The U.S. market is huge and we can handle (good) music from all over the universe. We’ll leave cracking the US music market to the experts and just tell you about some awesome new music we’re listening to.
Photo via https://facebook.com/AyaNakamuraa93
Follow Aya on her socials for some slices of musical treats.
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Keep making music that makes us move.
What do you think we should be listening to? Here's our L.A. Cultural Exchange Spotify Playlist.