An introduction to the music of West Africa, pt. 2: afrobeat & psychedelia


Lots of the psychedelic music that came from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal was a harken back to the golden age of British and American psychedelic pop in the 60s: The Beatles, Stones, Them, and then later acts like The Grateful Dead and The Band. Some of it was also completely unique, and there still hasn’t been much like it today. Here we go.

22: SJOB Movement – ‘No-one Cares’

Track 2 of an incredible and overlooked record from Nigeria in the early 70s, SJOB Movement’s A Move In The Right Direction. A set of great musicians who wrote passionately honest tunes, complete with killer hooks.

23: Sewavi Jacintho – ‘Sécret Populaire’

The b-side to a very rare Ivorian 45” called Mi Lé Wé, pressed in 1977 by the Société Ivoirienne du Disque.

24: Lumumba ‘Sing With The Birds’

Mellow, otherworldly jazz from the center of the earth.

25: Semi Colon – ‘Slim Fit Maggie’

60s psychedelic pop-influenced hit from Nigeria. Lovely vocal melodies that wouldn’t sound amiss on an early Beatles record.

26: Effi Duke & The Love Family – ‘Time is Come’

Effi Duke & The Love Family, carrying the Nigerian torch for trippers like The Band or The Grateful Dead.

27: Ekambi Brilliant – ‘Africa Africa’

A somewhat heavier psychedelic scene blossomed in Cameroon which, although just outside the limits of what’s geographically considered West Africa, shares lots of features with Ivorian and Nigerian psych movements in the 70s. Ekambi Brilliant’s particular brand of thundering psychedelia quite literally fuses Western psychedelic influences with tribal rhythms to stunning effect. A two-minute party starter.

28: Manu Dibango – ‘Ceddo End Title’

Deep, jazzy movie score from the ubiquitous Manu Dibango, king of Cameroonian funk, soul and psychedela.

29: Orchestre Baobab – ‘Bure Yaay Damaan’

Tripped out Afro-Cuban fire from Senegal’s Orchestre Baobab. Afrobeat rhythms, Cuban chord progressions and Wolof vocals. Delicious.

30: William Onyeabor – ‘Heaven and Hell’

William Onyeabor is really all of the genres that we talk about in this introduction– funk, psychedelic, disco and latin in varied measures. A mysterious Nigerian cowboy who got hold of tons of cutting edge synthesisers from Russia in the late 70s, recorded a handful of seriously good records, opened a pressing plant to distribute them and then disappeared to preach Christianity in his village in southern Nigeria. Amidst all the whispers and rumours, at the end of the day there’s not much that anyone knows about William Onyeabor other than that he recorded some incredible music that was decades ahead of its time, even by Western standards. The documentary ‘Who Is William Onyeabor?’ is highly recommended watching. ‘Heaven and Hell’ is a swirling psychedelic funk number from the eternal Onyeabor – RIP.

If you enjoyed part 2 of this introduction to West African music, you can support 45turns by sharing this article and liking us on Facebook (click here or use the sidebar to the left). The third and final part will be dedicated to disco and funk in the 1980s – keep an ear out for it.


  1. […] Kuti and other afrobeat pioneers that we looked at in part 2 took massive cues from US funk artists like James Brown. While afrobeat came to be synonymous with […]

  2. […] An introduction to the music of West Africa, pt. 2: afrobeat & psychedelia […]


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