Live Video: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Live Video, Wo' Pop
Bella Pham
photo by Dana Pleasant (view set)

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba are set on changing the way we think about world music. Pushing the limits of traditional West African instruments themselves to embrace western styles and a more versatile melodic range, Bassekou Kouyate is proud of the modern innovations he's made with the ngoni, a traditional stringed instrument, and rightly so. For generations in Kouyate's family, the ngoni has been passed down father to son, but he was determined to rework his musical heritage to create something truly original. By adding distortion and employing heavy use of a wah-wah pedal, Kouyate essentially created a whole-new instrument, the electric ngoni. Touring along with his band, Ngoni Ba, Bassekou Kouyate saw a hugely positive reaction to his edgier rock 'n' roll vibe, which inspired him and the band to put out their fourth album, Ba Power, earlier this year. The now Grammy-nominated Kouyate aims to use the new sound to appeal to younger generations and "transmit [his] culture not only to the youth, but the whole world." It's impossible to tear your eyes away from Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's electrifying, streamlined performance live in the KEXP studio. Check it out for yourself now.

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