Ivory Coast stars of ‘Premier Gaou’ fame to perform at
London’s Coronet this Easter Sunday
Magic System is more than just a popular African group. Magic System is a phenomenon and what made them a phenomenon is ‘Premier Gaou’, the first African song after Mory Kanté’s 1987 smash hit Yéké Yéké’ that truly exploded in Europe and all over the African continent.
The story began in 1996 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when Salif “Asalfo” Traoré, Narcisse “Goude” Sadoua, Etienne “Tino” Boué Bi, and Adama “Manadja” Fanny formed Magic System. Their style of music is Zouglou, a dance style of music first evolved in the 90s at the University of Abidjan. Zouglou is especially popular with the youth and is sung in a mix of local languages, such as bambara, mina, baoulé and bété accents, and French street slang, and it often uses humour to depict wrong goings in the society.
Magic System had been honing their skills for a couple of years before their song ‘Premier Gaou’ changed everything. Recorded in 1999, this infectiously catchy song chronicles a lover who, once bitten twice shy, wises up to his girlfriend’s requests for money. Like wildfire it spread, from Ivory Coast to the top of the charts in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Mozambique, Congo, Ghana, Tunisia and generally all of West and Francophone Africa and all the other urban centres of the African continent.
Pan-African success is often elusive for acts and for Magic System it didn’t stop there. They also became one of the few African acts that became popular in the West Indies, and the French Antilles particularly. Then Europe caught the ‘Premier Gaou’ bug with sell-out shows, FM radio domination and huge record sales, especially in France (2,000,000 singles and more than 400,000 albums), Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. A while when the song was remixed by French House music DJ and producer Bob Sinclar and it again exploded (the remix reached number 5 in the French charts in November 2002 with half a million copies sold). Not since Mory Kanté’s mega hit ‘Yéké Yéké’ some 15 years earlier has an African song reached such heights – and since ‘Premier Gaou’ there hasn’t been a success story like it.
But it’s not just about ‘Premier Gaou’, the song has highlighted the talents of Asalfo, Goude, Tino and Manadja and they have kept the hit singles and albums coming. Their latest album ‘Cessa Kié La Vérité’ features tracks with one of Africa’s greatest reggae acts, Alpha Blondy from Ivory Coast, and the late South African diva Brenda Fassie. The album also includes ‘Bouger Bouger’ which was one of the biggest hits of summer 2005 in France.
This Easter Sunday Magic System will be coming to the UK for the first time for a full-length performance as a 12-piece band. Be prepared to dance and party at THE African event this Easter bank holiday weekend. Support comes from Franck Akyl from Democratic Republic of Congo who together with his band Nostra Musica will perform contemporary Congolese Soukous music and Pit’a Mbongo, a Makossa act from Cameroon. DJs on the night are BBC 1Xtra’s DJ Edu from Kenya who plays music from all over the continent, Ivorian DJ Agbadou (Griffe Nite Club, London plus events in France and Ivory Coast) who specialises in Coupé Décalé, Zouglou and Ramer Ramer, and DJ Metro from Sierra Leone.