Why I Don’t like ‘World Music’

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August 4, 2010 By AndrewMaina

That’s right. I do not like ‘World Music.’ I do not like the concept of ‘World’ music and I have difficulty connecting with many musicians that for some bizarre reason are heaped together in that unholy heap passed off as ‘World’ music.  However I am an enormous fan of Benga. Kikuyu, Luo or roots if I can get it. The trouble is on itunes its all passed off as ‘World music’

I will begin this piece by explaining how I found out that outside Kenya, or rather in the west, Benga music is generally  classed together with hundreds of other diverse music genre’s as ‘World’ music. But first I will admit that I am a late convert to Benga, only really getting into it when I turned 20 a few years ago and heard Kenge Kenge Orutu system for the first time.  The  cohesion, energy and general high tempo of benga music generally has me a t the very least snapping my fingers and bobbing my head in strange places. Even as I post this in a cyber café I will probably have a benga track playing on the ear phones and bobbing my head to the amazement of other cyber café customers. Now back to this paragraph. Anyway in 2008 as a delayed birthday present I got to attend the WOMAD festival. Just my luck that one of the bands lined up entertain the revellers was Kenge Kenge Orutu Systems. Their two sets, one on the main stage on the first day and another on a side stage the afternoon afterwards, were possibly two of the most energetic sets I attended at the entire festival. The possible exceptions being Seun Kuti leading Egypt 80 and Dengue Fever. It was at this point that I got to see just what people mean when they say ‘World’ music.

there was a whole mish mash of musical delights, and sounds mind you so at least on that note I can say the experience was fascinating. Yet who’s bright idea was it to purport that they could reasonably do justice to the entire cavalcade of talent skill to pass the lot of under the rather ambiguous title of ‘World’ music. Personally I would  not believe that anybody could enjoy Irish folk  and Mongolian throat singing for the same reasons.

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