Takeifa: Rocking Dakar

Some music videos take you by surprise. One such video is the brand new offering by the Senegalese band Takeifa, called “Supporter”. Takeifa is band of siblings from the Keita family headed by brother Jac. According to soundcloud fable, Jac Keita experienced his musical calling at the tender age of 11, begging his father for an old guitar. Finally acquiring a guitar without strings, he cleverly fashioned makeshift strings from bicycle break cables. Before long Jac was recognized for his prodigious talent and recruited three of his brothers and one sister to join him in making music. The Keitas moved to Dakar in 2006 and established themselves as reliably strong performers in Dakar’s music scene.

With Jac’s leadership and vision, the Takeifa sound has become a welcome alternative to the more common mbalax music that has traditionally dominated the Senegalese popular music scene.

The song “Supporter” is further evidence that Takeifa is adding some creative flavor to Senegal’s already rich musical heritage. “Supporter” represents the continuing evolution of the Takeifa sound, blending elements of hard rock and Hip-Hop with melodic wolof vocals. In the video for “Supporter”, Takeifa’s dynamic talent is accompanied by mesmerizing visuals. The band performs amidst an intense chess game that comes to life with juju-emblazoned traditional laamb wrestlers, slow motion breakdancing, jousting horsemen and the fierce battle of a king and queen:

In 2009 I found myself in Dakar craving a dose of live music. After consulting a few friends in town I ended up at a rather impressive performance space and restaurant called Just 4 U. Situated just across the street from the legendary Cheikh Anta Diop University, Just 4 U was an oasis in Senegal’s bustling capital city. That night I was open to hearing any of the wonderfully rich musical styles that Senegal is known for: the hypnotic beats of Pape Diouf, Titi and Thione Seck, the conscious Hip-Hop of Daara J, the soothing kora of the country’s many griots, but what I heard that night was different. Taking the stage was Jac et le Takeifa. I was blown away by Jac’s unquestionable guitar talent, the band’s ability to confidently incorporate diverse music styles and the stellar radiance of the sister, Maa Khoudia, the most hardcore female albino bass player south of the Sahara.

I left at the end of the night, my thirst for live music quenched, thinking, Takeifa, now this is a name to remember.

Comments

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Zachary Rosen

Zachary Rosen is photography editor at Africa is a Country.

7 Comments
  1. Yeah this Lionel Mandeix video (I’m a huge fan of his work) for Takeifa has blown me away. Good against evil, the struggle with outside influences, encouraging young people to stay in Senegal. The symbolic references brings the non-Wolof speaker into the mix. The music a not often heard rock vibe pushes them closer to the world stage. Love it all ! Love everything new coming out of Africa these days. Here’s a bit more about the director and links to the band. http://missxooley.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/world-travelersaturday-morning-black-coffee-the-genius-of-lionel-mandeix/

  2. Only recently was I blasting contemporary senegalese music and soccer, characterizing both as the scene of few high performing individuals in an overall field of mediocrity. Takeifa is one of those high performing “individuals”, not in terms of longevity or performance, but in terms of originality: they are trying to be different. Originality however, is appreciated only when accomplished, not as a work in progress. Unfortunately for Takeifa, everything I heard from,them, including this song, frames them in terms of “wow, can’t wait for them to find their voice”. They have so far left me somewhat cold, for the simple reason that they seem a bit aimless, lacking any definite sound or voice that tells the listener something specific (just like this sentence).While the music has always been tight and driven, Jac’s singing on previous work has been too meandering, too posed, not substantial enough to grab and shake, dig and burrow. I ‘ve thought many times while listening to them that they could use the help of a great producer, one who can stretch them out without misdirecting them, and Jac could ground his singing into the local vocal legacies before soaring off.
    Senegal has had a strong legacy of big bands who used rock, and pop, mixed with traditional sounds to help build what we now know as afrobeat. Toure Kunda, Xalam, Super Diamono, Baba Maal, Ismael Lo, and smaller units of one or two who favored the sparse instrumentation and folky singing: Ismael Lo, Cheikh Lo, Pape et Cheikh, Baba Maal, Nourou Tall, Wasis Diop…
    Takeifa is trying to fill that empty niche that spans those two zones,and it is to be commended and I am certain they will one day do it substantially.
    Hope this does not come out as petty, but every video of theirs features Jac prominently, followed by the bassist, Mama and flashes of the others. If this band is indeed a band, and not just Jac backed by his siblings, let the video reflect it.

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