The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization within the U.N. is best known for its designation of special, preserved spaces called UNESCO World Heritage sites. But in 2015, the agency named May 5 as a recognized day for celebrating the broad swath of culture specifically originating from — but shared and cherished far beyond — the African continent.
We got appropriately musical in celebrating African World Heritage Day on the May 5, 2022 #ThematicStatic playlist. Review the tracks that made the cut and stream the show below!
Angelique Kidjo ft. Yemi Alade – “Dignity” – What a team-up! Beninois singer and activist Kidjo had Nigerian rapper Alade on this track on Mother Nature, Kidjo’s award-winning 2021 release.
Burnaboy – “Wonderful” – More Nigerian hip-hop for yas.
Vagabon – “Water Me Down” – This African American multi-instrumentalist and songwriter spent her first decade+ in her native Cameroon before an adolescence and adulthood (still) in New York. Born Laetitia Tamko, she records and performs as Vagabon.
Common ft. Black Thought & Seun Kuti – “When We Move” – WNXP’s own Evening host Marquis Munson reminded me of this collab from Common’s 2021 record A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2, featuring the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti (we’ll get to him!).
Mdou Moctar – “Tala Tallam” – These Matador Records signees have been one of the buzziest live bands in ages, for good reason. Whereas they normally rip with electric guitars and frenetic drums, this track shows the softer side of Mdou from 2021’s Afrique Victim. Mahamadou Souleymane, who performs as Mdou, is based in Niger.
Songoy Blues – “Barre” – More desert blues, yes please. This band of actual exiles of civil war hail from Mali.
Miriam Makeba – “Pata Pata” – South African singer Makeba became world famous in a time her home country, and this one, were undergoing major racial reckonings. She was outspoken politically but also infused joy into performances sharing her heritage, like this one on TV:
Fela Kuti – “Why Black Men Dey Suffer” – Look, Ma, I played a 15-minute song on the radio! The father of Afrobeat deserved a quarter-hour, at least.