Ibaaku: Creating unique African beats

While in Dakar, we talked to Senegalese music producer Ibaaku about his hypnotic afro-beats.

From the Series

Senegalese music producer Ibaaku has created a whole new genre of music, which he calls "Afro-hypnotique experimental". Like many of his contemporaries on the creative scene in Dakar, Ibaaku often talks about how the city – and its young, creative community – have influenced him. 

“I am an artist and creative spirit,” he says as he remembers growing up in a household of artists and being taught piano by his mother. At age five, Ibaaku was already listening to free jazz and the strange, rather other-worldly quality that his music has is probably a direct result of being surrounded by so many unusual sounds.  

I like my music to be strange, I like my music not to be too common.

In 2003 Ibaaku was deep into Dakar’s hip-hop scene, writing lyrics and MCing at events, but his interesting in instrumental music didn’t disappear and by 2004 he had begun experimenting with producing music of his own. 

The “afro” influence in his tracks comes with the rhythms, which he explains to be much richer than the standard four beats typically used in hip-hop music. The texture of his music is influenced by African instruments and sounds. Even the sounds of the city of Dakar permeate his tracks.  

Unworldly looking himself, the first album Ibaaku released was named Alien Cartoon and was the soundtrack for Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane’s SS14 collection by the same name. It marked the beginning of a new sound and a new movement. Both Raby Kane and Ibaaku are members of the collective of creative activists, Les Petites Pierres. Jean-Baptiste Joire, also a member of Les Petites Pierres has just released a new music video for Ibaaku's track "Yang Fogole".