Roger Bekono

Roger Bekono

Awesome Tapes From Africa • 1989

Relentlessly driving triplets over a stable, electronically underpinned »four to the floor« base beat, clearly influenced by the technical innovations of the 80s, but unmistakably traditional at its core: The Awesome Tapes From Africa label has decided to re-release a bikutsi classic with the album »Roger Bekono« by the musician of the same name. 

Like many other African styles, bikutsi has its unmistakable roots in traditional music and, in its electric version, became the sound of the big city in the mid-20th century. Messi Martin, the father of bikutsi, had transferred the sound of the balafon to the electric guitar and by doing so prepared the style for the modern age; to this day, musicians continue to develop bikutsi. 

Roger Bekono, who died in 2016, was one of the most important protagonists of the style in the 80s. When Pope John Paul II visited Cameroon in 1985, Bekono was even commissioned to write a welcoming song for the pontiff. In 1989, the album »Roger Bekono« with the track »Jolie Poupée« was released, which made the singer famous outside the nation’s borders. The four songs on the album, which thrive on its complex textures as well as on Bekono’s mellow voice, are considered classics today. After a creative hiatus, however, the musician’s luck ran out and »Roger Bekono« remains his musical legacy today, so to speak.