In my inbox the other day arrived a Coupe Decale mixtape from San Francisco’s Chief Boima.
I started trying to write a post but realized I know bugger all about Coupe Decale so I gave up and asked the man himself to fill us in.
Hi Vamanos, Let’s Go!…
Things are good out here in cloudy California.
Tell me about Coupe Decale music. Where’s it from & how did you get into it ?
Coupe Decale is known usually as an Ivorian music, but from what I understand it, kind of started in Paris from some Ivorian immigrants. Douk Saga has a song that says he is the creator of Coupe Decale, and he was like a baller type dude in Paris. Just to get the vibe, it is a club music where dudes would pay to get their named shouted out and tracks produced for them. I’ve seen Coupe Decale videos with Didier Drogba in a club and money being thrown around etc. It instantly caught on in Ivory Coast, now it’s all over West Africa and even in the French Caribbean, and throughout the rest of Africa and being created and listened to by everybody. There’s a great article on Afropop.org about the origins of Coupe Decale.
I got into the music after going to a local nightclub in San Francisco, that I started djing at called Little Baobab, which is referenced in the name of the mix. It is a Senegalese restaurant and international club. On Fridays and Saturdays they play all the current African dance tunes as well as the classics. I was drawn to it because it was like a more raw banging version of the type stuff my dad listened to when I was growing up. I instantly identified with the electronic production and Afro Pop rhythm, but at the time I was doing a Global Hip Hop night on a weekday. I kind of moved up the ranks after the owner, Marco, heard me play. He liked how I mixed things up, so I went and raided my dads CD collection for the classics, and brushed up and the contemporary scene in Africa (complete with a trip “home” that resulted in my Diamonds from Sierra Leone mix.)
Your mixing up the raw african sounds with really fresh contemporary hip hop jams like Kid Cudi, D4L, even juke stuff like DJ Chip. Its fire frankly. Why did you decide to mix it up ?
Well it’s a sign of my cultural background. I was drawn to Coupe Decale in the first place because of it’s mix of sounds and production styles, and like so many musicians who are between cultures, I just wanted to mix my influences.
Coupe Decale is a dancing music. They have instructions on what to do in the song akin to many of the Jamaican Dancehall songs. I chose some of these specific hip hop songs to remix because they are dance songs and dancing is such a huge part of African culture and people of African descent’s culture all over the world. I’m a pan-africanist and I like to draw connections between cultures that seem to have been separated by oceans and years. That’s why I used more songs like Soulja Boy, Elephant Man, Cupid and D4L, because dancing is essential to their brand of regional American Hip Hop. It only made sense if I was going to mash the two continents, that I would make that connection.
Tell us about the Coup Decale night you do in SF. I can hear an African MC on the mixtape, does he perform with you and are there special dance instructions that go with the tunes ?
Ha! We do all try to talk on the mic. Sometimes some of us more than others! But yeah I mean that’s part of the house party vibe too right? On the mix it’s DJ Elembe, who is definitely not shy talking to the crowd. When I was in Sierra Leone they had kids on the microphone like Jamaican dj’s. It just gets the vibe right when you have someone interact with the crowd. It was popularized in hip hop and reggae, but it works with anything. Ya’ll in the U.K. take it to another level as well.
But the night isn’t just Coupe Decale. The climax of the night is probably when those tunes go on, and they’re the most popular, but we also do African Reggae, French Dancehall, Hip Hop, Zouk, Reggaeton, Salsa, Jamaican Dancehall, Kwaito, Merengue, Hiplife, Mbalax Soukous, Tanzanian and Kenyan Hip Hop, Ethiopian tracks, and more. That’s how African parties are, a mix of everything.
Quality. What kind of crowd do you get ? Are there many people from the Ivory Coast in SF ?
The crowd we get is super mixed. I don’t think the Bay Area has the African population that New York, D.C., Paris or London, but we have a huge Latino population. The club is in a Latino neighborhood, and I guess a lot of Latinos check it for the international vibe. You hear a good mix of French, Spanish and English being spoken. There’s a lot of internationally minded North Americans, (White, Black, Asian) and a lot of French people as well. Most of the Africans that are there every weekend are from the francophone countries, with the a large number being Senegalese, probably because it’s a Senegalese restaurant. I don’t know if there are a lot of Ivorians. I’ve met a couple. I meet more Senegalese, Nigerians, Liberians, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Kenyans.
I first heard about you when you did a sick cumbia mix just before all the Nueva cumbia stuff exploded out of Argentina. How did you get into cumbia & are you feeling the new stuff ?
I remember the first time I heard Cumbia. This girl came to my dorm room when I was in college and brought an Ozo Motley CD. I asked what it was and she said it was Cumbia. From then I loved it. I probably only paid attention to cumbia fusions too until I moved to California. The first time I heard Yerba Buena, Manu Chao or Celso Piña, and even Oro 11 were all memorable moments in my head. Being in Cali now though, I’ve been here for four years, you hear Cumbia everywhere. Late night classic cumbia mixes on the mainstream Reggaeton channel. My homie Carlos helped me with the mix by letting me pick through a huge stack of Cumbia 45′s that make up the last part of the mix. Now I still dig the fusions, especially what’s coming out of Buenos Aires, but I love the old Colombian sound. To me it sounds more tropical, more African.
Thanks for that Chief. Awesome.
The mixtape, BAOBAB CONNECTION VOL.2 drops to buy here on May 3rd. You’ll also get a bonus 30 min mix by DJ Sogui So Good with more super fresh Coupe Decale business.
Here’s an exclusive joint off the mixtape