Côte d’Ivoire celebrated their 51st year of independence from France yesterday. Music has played a role in national political identity throughout the country’s conflict. I’m sure that it will continue to play a role as the country tries to move on from its recent turmoil.

The Ivory Coast in the 70’s and 80’s had one of West Africa’s strongest recording industries, and became a magnet for musicians, especially from what was then Zaire. Congolese Soukous still has a strong influence on Ivorian popular music today.

In the 80’s Alpha Blondy came on the scene and made the Ivory Coast a Reggae country. Tiken Jah Fakoly continues that tradition today.

But, no other music points to Ivory Coast’s national identity in the world today more than Coupe Decale.

Of course, with the genius of those like DJ Arafat…

and the international appeal of Magic System…

Zouglou and Coupe Decale have become important touchstones in my own musical life.

I hear Zouglou is making a resurgence after being bumped out a little by the more digitally oriented Coupe Decale. To me, Zouglou is one of the best musics to hear live:

Also, with distinct styles coming out of camps like the Choco Gangster Rap crew (who we talked about here) and CIAfrica, the Ivorian Hip Hop scene is growing strong as well.

Here’s to hoping that this independence can mark a permanent step towards peace and unification in the Côte d’Ivoire.