Following the debut release of Stronghold Sound’s compilation spanning Afrobeat, Arab folk, reggae, dub-step, hip-hop and ñu-cumbia, the SF-based global beats label/collective traveled to Guinea Conakry to record music at the heart of what was once the Mandeng Empire of West Africa in the production of Sembeh Ma Fa Fe, a compilation in two volumes: Mandeng Roots and Revisits from Guinea Conakry.
Closed to much of the world since independence, Guinea is home to many masters of Mandeng traditional music and culture. In parallel with these masters of tradition is a new generation of artists who have embraced reggae, hip hop and r&b as their own and worked on their individual expressions within these genres. After years of dictatorial rule, the nation has recently experienced its first democratic election and emerges anew to share its rich musical culture.
Dub Snakkr, one of the key djs/producers behind the Stronghold and a long time student of djembe culture, arrived in Conakry with a portable recording rig and a 7” record player. Setting up in his close friend’s hometown of Matoto, word soon spread that a ‘big-time US producer’ was in town and talent lined up to be involved… literally. Though Dub Snakkr was uncomfortable with his new reputation, he immediately began to record and work with local artists on their sound. Blending traditional West-African, reggae, dancehall, hip-hop as well as his own dub sensibilities, Snakkr (a.k.a. Ahmed Khouja) worked with nearly 20 artists to produce the eclectic and revealing body of Guinean music spanning from the roots of the Mandeng to revisits from the African diaspora. In addition, Raed Khazen and Jana Saleh from B-root Productions (Lebanon) assisted with final production and mixing.
Sembeh Ma Fa Fe, translated from Susu as, ‘strong sound coming,’ is a two volumes compilation to be released separately;
The first disc, Revisits Volume, comprises several young and upcoming artists’ who’ve paid their dues in the Guinea music and performance scene. Having come up from eclectic and frequent local block-parties and talent competitions (often featuring breakdance groups, lip-syncs, emcees, acrobatics and more), each have grown and developed their own interpretations of popular urban music genres from reggae, dancehall and one-drop rhythms, hip-hop anthems and r&b numbers that seem to remix the styles with a West-African melodic sensibility and rhythmic twist.