Ferry DJimmy

Rhythm Revolution

Acid Jazz • 1971

Music and politics have rarely entered into such a close relationship as they did in Africa in the sixties and seventies: the marriage of traditional rhythms and popular styles such as highlife or rumba united many of the young nations under one groove. The fact that this resulted in the most exciting music of those years often remained hidden from the rest of the world for a long time. Ferry Djimmy, born in 1939 in what was then French West Africa, forged an idiosyncratic, glowing version of Afrobeat in the years after Benin’s independence under the influence of Fela Kuti, the Black Panther Party and the South African liberation movement, with rough funk, heavy guitars, soul, doowop and a rebellious attitude. Mathieu Kérékou, who seized power in a coup in 1972 and wanted to turn Benin into an African Cuba, quickly realised that music like Ferry Djimmy’s would permeate down to the youth much quicker than socialist speeches, and so promoted Djimmy. Nevertheless, he did not enjoy much success. Perhaps he was ahead of his time. Disillusioned, Ferry Djimmy moved to Lagos in neighbouring Nigeria in 1977 where, after further musical adventures, he died of heart failure in 1996. »Rhythm Revolution« is his musical legacy, and even though it may have developed a patina, this music still exudes enormous urgency and tenacity today.