Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa

Just before the disastrous 20 year civil war in Somalia, various radio operators and music fans collected cassette tape recordings of popular artists and hid them in order to preserve their pop culture once the dust literally settled. Thanks to them, this anthology of popular artists from the 70s and 80s is now accessible and able to be enjoyed. The rewards are palpable.

Because of it’s strategic location in Africa, Somalia was able to absorb many various sounds. A mix of reggae, Arabic, Eastern Africa guitar lilt and Afro Funk all meld together on these records. Middle Eastern farfisas create exotic chords to Jamaican beats while nasal-toned females sing in Arabic, as on Nimco Jamaac’s “The Highest Mountain” and Aamina Camaai’s “Men are Cruel and Kind.” Thick funky horns mix well on Xasan Diriye’s “Love” and Dur Dur Band’s “Elixer.” The mix of mystical keyboards, chunky guitar chords and relentless drive make for exciting sounds that you’ll be glad were preserved. As Napoleon once said, “Given the choice between writing the laws and the songs, I’d rather write the songs, as people remember them.” You’ll remember these.


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