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Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Yé ké yé ké"

Mory Kanté - Yé ké yé ké (1987)

More Dance Music.

While the phrase was introduced in the 60s, it was the mid 80s before the music industry jumped on the idea of promoting World Music. This was one of the earliest hits of the nascent genre. Yéké is apparently "the sound young women make when they dance" according to the singer himself. So this is a song that can be hard to translate, but is close to "Shake it, shake it." Or perhaps "Boom-shakalaka". The chorus adds the word n'nimo which translates to sister-in-law which, when used in Guinea by young men is a way of casually flirting with women. So all together, the song is a playful command to bend over, because he wants to see you shake your tail feathers.

Traditional African drums and kora are almost supplanted by brass, fuzzy electric bass, orchestra hits, and multiple synths. You can really hear the kora at 2:00. The beat is traditional, and holds the song together, so that it is not just another repetitive drum machine and synth dance track, but it is a close thing.

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