"I’ve loved African music from a young age..."

The barriers between Western culture and the so-called Third World are toppling on a near daily basis.

The internet has shrank the international community, meaning that important news events - such as the Arab Spring - can be instantly absorbed around the world. It's a truly global community, one that is beginning to creep into pop music.

YADi is living proof of this. A British artist, the singer's bloodline includes visits to Algeria, Italy and Norway allowing her to call on a broad spread of influences. Listening to her music, though, it is the spirit of North Africa which comes through most clearly.

In the rhythms, the tones, the atmosphere YADi seems able to conjure the spirit of North Africa - hell, the video for new single 'The Blow' was even shot in location in Morocco. Asked to explore her influences, YADi has responded with a fascinating mixtape focussing on the music of North and West Africa.

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I’ve loved African music from a young age, especially that of North and West Africa. One of my earliest memories is playing drums in a big circle of women when I was about 5 at my uncles wedding in Algeria. Music is so embedded in the culture, as it is in me. That scene of celebration is always at the back of my mind when I’m making music.

Here are some songs that have inspired me and that I love and hope you will too.

Afel Bocum & Alikbar – Inkey

This is real desert blues. I just can’t get enough of that guitar, when the riff comes in and it keeps on going round and round – I can’t help but move. It’s so relentless without ever getting boring. He is the nephew of the Godfather of Malian music Ali Farka Toure so it’s clearly in their blood. (Try this for more evidence)

Tènin Sidibé & Yoro Diallo - Dounian yè Quatti yé

When I play this song to people, the biggest smile appears on their face. It goes around building up more and more energy. It’s a traditional Malian song and yet there is something so fresh and exciting about it. It’s got so much soul.

Salif Keita – Sina

I was lucky enough to see Salif Keita live at the Barbican a few years ago. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, with about 12 musicians on stage and some incredible backing singers/dancers. The way they wound their bodies around the rhythm was just too cool. I have a lot of respect for him because he loved making music enough to persevere even when his family tried to stop him due to his royal roots. He said his very existence relied on music.

Gnawa Diffusion – Algeria

I also saw this band at the Barbican and by the end of the performance the entire audience was up on stage performing and dancing with them. They take audience participation to another level.

Nahawa Doumbia – Banani

Here is Nahawa Doumbia singing in her hometown of Bougouni, Mali in the great outdoors. I love how you can hear all the noises in the background and kids laughing and smiling with her as she performs. I love the meandering folk melody in this one. It reminds me of a Bulgarian choir I love called ‘Le Mystère des voice Bulgares’. It’s amazing how similar these different forms of folk music from around the world are.

Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares– Malka Moma

This has to be favourite piece of folk music. I can’t explain how much I love it. I went to see them live a year ago and they brought me to tears. In fact they pretty much brought the whole audience to tears. I listen to this piece of music and it takes me to wherever I want to go.

Hassan Hakmoun – The Gift

I love this song - it sends me into a trance like all Gnawa music. There is something mystical about it and then it erupts into this amazing groove that makes you want to keep dancing all the way through the night. Hakmoun is a master of traditional Gnawa music, who also mixes in different western styles like Jazz and Pop and has created his own genre.

Hamid El Kasri – Youbadi

I had to get some good Karkabou sounds in here for you. They are the coolest looking percussion instruments I’ve ever seen. You have to be incredibly precise and only true Gnawa pros have got that level of skill. They change up the pace and the rhythm patterns without you even realising as if programmed by the rhythm Gods!

Dimi Mint Abba. Mauritania Habibti. ديمي منت آب

There is something so eerie and yet uplifting about this song. I love the way the melody rolls around the lower notes in her range and then she just suddenly hits a high note so effortlessly and it cuts right through you.

The Very Best - Yoshua Alikuti

This is a great song by The Very Best. They have combined their African and Swedish roots to create something really fresh. I love this melody, and the way that the production lifts in the chorus is epic.


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