BIKUTSI MUSIC (CAMEROON)
Obituary: Mr. Olinga, who passed away on July 9, 2000 in Yaounde, was in the preparing to
tour in promotion of his most recent album. A retired police superintendent, Mr.
Olinga is reputed alongside Martin Messi, to have been behind the modernisation of the
bikutsi brand of music in the 70s. Mr. Olinga (called up into the National Orchestra
four years before by Manu Dibango) produced the song 'Essam Sekele' in 1974 which was a
success in the history of Bikutsi music, Africasounds sends its condolences to the
family, friends and fans of Mr. Olinga.
BIKUTSI NEW RELEASES:
...My personal favorite, hails from the Beti who live throughout Southern
Cameroon, in the heavily forested region of Cameroon. However, the Bikutsi artists
listed below tend to hang out in the hot night clubs in
Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. In the past
several years, the PEDALE movement has really heated up the Bikutsi bars of Yaounde.
Pedale is a fast, accelerated version of Bikutsi where, in the frenzied finale of
the bikutsi song, the dancers thrust their arms out in a fashion similar to riding a
bicycle. Although many of the following releases are extremely hard to find
outside of Cameroon, there has been an increase in available recordings, on CD, over the
past year and a half. Be sure to read the lengthy and authorative "A History of Bikutsi Music in
Cameroon," located on this website, which I
wrote under the guidence of my good friend Jean-Marie AHANDA, founding member of the
legendary Bikutsi group, Les Tetes Brulees. Here are
some of the hottest Bikutsi sounds available at the moment: Check back often for the
latest releases! All releases available in CD FORMAT unless otherwise noted.
K7 DENOTES LOCAL CAMEROON CASSETTE RELEASE, NOTE THESE MIGHT BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
BIKUTSI NEW HITS
CLICK HERE FOR CLASSICS
|"BIKUTSI AVENIR" VARIOUS ARTISTS: O BAL BASS, MVONDO ROGER'S STAR, FAN NDZENGUE, EDDY BRICE ENGOULOU, MANGA
|(TJR MUSIC, LES EDITIONS M.C.POP MUSIC CDAT 171)|
|A very accomplished various artists collection of recent Bikutsi
hits, including some fine examples of the PEDALE CRAZE (which can be easily identified by
a frenzied drum beat and hand-clapping that escaltes as the song gets near it's finale).
Decent sound quality and a veritable overview of some of the Bikutsi greats, this
is an excellent compilation which reveals some of the variety in the music.
Yet another excellent re-release from the TJR MUSIC group. It appears that Aladji
Toure is starting to notice the benefits of expanding the label to cover Bikutsi as well
as the staple Makossa hits.|
|BISSO SOLO "TAO TAO" & TAP'S "LE
SENTIMENTAL" "LE DUO" |
|(TJR MUSIC CDAT 170)|
|BISSO SOLO is one of the most talented artists to surface on the
modern Bikutsi music scene. He is unique in that he has several trademarks to his
name, the first and most recognizable is his high-pitched howl, "TAO TAO", which
he will hurl at the listener throughout a song. His second trademark is his unique
look, sporting a classic "afro" hair style, Bisso stands out in appearance
from the crowd. Bisso is a personal friend and was kind enough to offer his insight
on my "History of Bikutsi Music" research project. If you are ever in
Yaounde, be sure to check him out, ask around and see what bar he will be playing in.
On this superb release, Bisso is joined by the fine Bikutsi musician TAP'S "Le
Sentimental" and each of the 11 tracks are excellent. The classic
BALAFON-GUITAR is preserved in rare fashion on this recording. If you like spine
tingling guitars and very exciting dance music, these well orchestrated songs are my top
|ZELE "LE BOMBARDIER" "BEST
|(TJR MUSIC, CDAT 169)|
|Zele has always been hugely popular in Yaounde and his high paced
music will explain just why. This is an excellent album collecting some of his hits
from the 1995-1996 era, just when PEDALE was starting to make its waves. There is
some classic guitar playing "a la Zanzibar" (see Les Tetes Brulees' "HOT
HEADS" review below) which you won't want to miss. A little less melodic than
Bisso Solo's works but an excellent album that should become part of your collection.|
|CAMEROON BIKUTSI TEMPO "VARIOUS ARTISTS/BEST OF
BIKUTSI" : CHANTAL AYISSI, DIEU NGOLFE, NDJANG "LE
ZAPPEUR", SALA BEKONO |
|The first of the so-called BEST OF collections, it is more a
collaboration of several artists. Included is the veteran SALA BEKONO who has
countless albums to his name, as well as Chantal Ayissi, a self-proclaimed diva who lately
has been producing some lavish and exciting Makossa entries with the odd-bikutsi number
thrown in. The collection in rounded off by some fine entries by Njang "le
zappeur" and guitar heavy Dieu Ngolfe. Again, you can't go wrong with these
artist overviews as there is so few selections out there. Grab this if you can
locate it. |
|LES TETES BRULEES "BE
|(DECLIC MUSIC, DANA WANNA)|
|The most musically diverse of all the modern Bikutsi releases,
this is a brilliant fusion album combining the high points of Bikutsi music with afro-funk
and jazz. You can't miss Jean-Marie's trumpet as it comes in an out of the songs in
a haunting fashion. The signature "Be Happy" single is offered twice, once
in an extended mix that even includes some Ragga elements and an expanded vocals from
Jean-Marie. Les Tetes Brulees record with la creme de la creme of the African
Parisian crowd, and each and every album from this group is of utmost quality.
Expect Bikutsi gone somewhat wild, and expanded by the groups love of musical styles and
spicy fusion recipes. |
EDITOR'S CLASSIC PICK:
|LES TETES BRULEES "HOT
|This is the album that changed it all, and brought Les Tetes
Brulees to international acclaim. To my knowledge, this is the most accessible of
several recordings of ZANZIBAR, who was the lead guitarist for the original Les Tetes
Brulees. Tragically, Zanzibar passed away before he could catch up with his
rocketing fame, but this session will let you into his world of guitar pyrotechnics.
Zanzibar is one of the living legends of the guitar hall of fame. This is the
classic album to build your bikutsi foundation upon. |
|LES TETES BRULEES "BIKUTSI
|A jazzy and funked-out sequal to the classic HOT HEADS, this is
another excellent release from Les Tetes Brulees. There several short Beti a capela
songs in here and some nice balafon preludes to the electrfied bikutsi funk. Afro
Jazz great MANU DIBANGO makes an appearance on this album, being a close friend to the
group. The title song, BIKUTSI ROCK, is an excellent example of the futuristic
bikutsi funk that Jean-Marie has created. Definitely a great and different kind of
|GEORGES SEBA "LIONS
|(DIAMA MUSIC CD 74444)|
|A couple of bikutsi numbers crept into this eclectic mix, and if
you ever wanted to have the in-flight musical jingle for Cameroon Airlines, then this is
the CD for you. Some gospel numbers and jingles thrown into this exclectic mix.
Intersting enough, however. And typical of a pre-1997 Bikutsi release.
There is also one of the theme songs for les lions indomptables included for you soccer
BIKUTSI 1's RETRO FAVES...
SOME CLASSICS AND PERSONAL FAVORITES
"BIKUTSI SYSTEM" (K7)
GIBRALTAR DRAKUS (LE ROI DU BANTOUBOL)
ST DESIR ATANGO
GILBRALTAR DRAKUS (LE
ROI DU BANTOUBOL)
"TROPICAL ROCK" (K7)
"QUI PERDE GAGNE" (K7)
For all those Bisso Solo fans, this was the original
album cover and the original hit, long before the CD "LE DUO, BISSO SOLO "TAO
TAO" & TAP'S LE SENTIMENTAL" was released in digital CD format by TJR
records. If you've got the CD, then you have these hits...
"DERNIER ESPOIR" (K7)
A follow up to the success of QUI PERDE GAGNE and
the CD "LE DUO" (see editor's picks below). Bisso is always in fine form
and this is yet another must have from one of the top Bikutsi artists.
"DANS OSNAN II & OTIL MA (WRITE ME)
There are some lovely chorus segments on this album
and Sala Bekono's voice is a bit deeper than the numbers on "BIKUTSI TEMPO".
MESSI MARTIN -
"NOSTALGIE" vol 1 (K7)
MESSI MARTIN started it all, and this cassette is
certainly one way to catch a moment of his "Nostalgie" for the good old
days. Read the History of Bikutsi in Cameroon for a full story on Messi Martin's
glorious past, pick up this K7 if you find it to hear first hand the balafon guitar
technique, voice and bandleader that made it all happen.