Zouglou is one of the most popular Ivoirian music styles to emerge in the 90s. While it has been supplanted in Abidjan’s clubs and airwaves more recently by DJ-centered coupe decale music, zouglou will always be a part of the Ivoirian musical landscape.
It was a style created by students at Abidjan’s universities, singing to a djembe/percussion accompaniment to animate parties and rallies for social change. The message is usually either humorous or political, often both. To reach the largest audience in Abidjan, however, the djembe and percussion origins of zouglou became the sythesizer and drum machine, and the parties and rallies became cassettes and playback shows (lip-synced performances). This is the same basic trajectory of almost all Ivoirian music as it goes from the artist’s head to market.
The video above is the best example we could find on the web of where zouglou is coming from (many thanks to papsonmagic for the post). It’s focussed on the dancers (who are pretty excellent), but the musicians are what caught my ear. This is 9 minutes of just getting down inna old-school, roots zouglou stylee. Enjoy.