Jagwa Music – Traditional

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Mchiriku seeps from the concrete of Dar es Salaam and the sweat of its suburb: A bricolage of old-style Zaramo drums; a battered stool beaten with sticks; a small Casio hand-held organ hooked to a megaphone used years back to make public announcements; singers belting out songs on how to survive in the urban maze faced with unemployment, drugs & alcohol, Aids, unfaithful girlfriends, voodoo, oppressive relatives; a stage choreography that veers between a non-stop gymnastics workout, concert-party like theatrics and humor, acrobatics, erotic self expression; a performance energy that hits you like so much TNT, or better, like the Jaguar fighter plane that the group took up for its name.
What to do with labels? Call it Afro punk for sheer noise, for distortion as a creative element, for attitude; there are elements of trance and minimal musics harking back to local precedents in nzumari double-reed horn playing and the hypnotic melodies of the rimba; there is the sexual energy of kuduro and mapouka; the highly charged lyrics compare well to any socially conscious tradition be it rock or rap.
Jagwa Music emerged in 1992 as a spin-off from an earlier group playing chakacha (locally a mixture of the bite & tunes of Mombasa taarab songs with Zaramo rhythmic and kinetic ideas) at weddings and other family celebrations. Their name Jagwa (from the French fighter plane) came up in opposition to their rivals which had named themselves Scud, all terminology coming down right from the first Gulf War. Initially Jagwa’s sound was closer to chakacha, yet they developed their edge with the current members joining within the past ten years: Above all, these are the two kinanda (Casio) players Daliki and Diploma, intensifying the style with their minimalist end-of-day feedback and distortion deluges, Mazinge’s and TP’s powerful and always shifting drumming patterns; and, more recently with current front man and main attraction Jackie joining. The latter is an energetic singer and performer, belting out songs and commentaries on day-to-day street life with never-ending vigor

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