BIKUTSI MUSIC (CAMEROON)

BIKUTSI NEWS:

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 TO OBTAIN...

BIKUTSI NEW HITS

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CLICK HERE FOR CLASSICS

Bikutsi Avenir.JPG (8728 bytes)

bullet"BIKUTSI AVENIR" VARIOUS ARTISTS: O BAL BASS, MVONDO ROGER'S STAR, FAN NDZENGUE, EDDY BRICE ENGOULOU, MANGA LUCKY
bullet(TJR MUSIC, LES EDITIONS M.C.POP MUSIC CDAT 171)
bulletA 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.

EDITORS CHOICE:WB01518_.gif (392 bytes)

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bulletBISSO SOLO "TAO TAO" & TAP'S "LE SENTIMENTAL" "LE DUO"
bullet(TJR MUSIC CDAT 170)
bulletBISSO 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 pick.

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bulletZELE "LE BOMBARDIER" "BEST OF" 
bullet(TJR MUSIC, CDAT 169)
bulletZele 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.

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bulletCAMEROON BIKUTSI TEMPO "VARIOUS ARTISTS/BEST OF BIKUTSI" : CHANTAL AYISSI, DIEU NGOLFE, NDJANG "LE ZAPPEUR", SALA BEKONO
bullet(DRI PRODUCTION)
bulletThe 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.

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bulletLES TETES BRULEES "BE HAPPY"
bullet(DECLIC MUSIC, DANA WANNA)
bulletThe 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:WB01518_.gif (392 bytes)

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bulletLES TETES BRULEES "HOT HEADS"
bullet(SHANACHIE RECORS)
bulletThis 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 Bikutsi Rock.JPG (5360 bytes)

bulletLES TETES BRULEES "BIKUTSI ROCK"
bullet(SHANACHIE)
bulletA 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 album.

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bulletGEORGES SEBA "LIONS INDOMPTABLES"
bullet(DIAMA MUSIC CD 74444)
bulletA 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 theme buffs.
bullet

BIKUTSI 1's RETRO FAVES...

SOME CLASSICS AND PERSONAL FAVORITES OF BIKUTSI:

Bikutsi System.JPG (6115 bytes)

"BIKUTSI SYSTEM" (K7)

GIBRALTAR DRAKUS (LE ROI DU BANTOUBOL)

ST DESIR ATANGO

ROGER BEKONO

GOVY

Gibraltar Drakus.JPG (7385 bytes)

GILBRALTAR DRAKUS (LE ROI DU BANTOUBOL)

"TROPICAL ROCK" (K7)

Bisso Solo Qui Perd Gagne.JPG (6989 bytes)

BISSO SOLO

"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... 

Bisso Solo Dernier Espoir.JPG (5517 bytes)

BISSO SOLO

"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.

"TAO TAO"

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SALA BEKONO

"DANS OSNAN II & OTIL MA (WRITE ME) (K7)

There are some lovely chorus segments on this album and Sala Bekono's voice is a bit deeper than the numbers on "BIKUTSI TEMPO".

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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.