Poprica! Part two
TABJ takes a second leisurely stroll through the enthralling landscape of African-influenced pop music. This month’s set list explores three more unforgettable discs, all from the most indulgent decade in the history of mankind.
Happy Birthday (1981)
by Stevie Wonder
Contrary to popular opinion this Stevie Wonder foot-tapper isn’t just a frivolous novelty tune that restaurants play every time a guest celebrates a birthday. Indeed, it is a record that was originally designed to celebrate the monumental achievements and legacy of African-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King. For Stevie it represented a continued departure from his funk and soul pomp. At this time he was happy to venture into the Cinzano-drenched nightclub of 1980s pop, instead.
Renegades of Funk (1983)
by Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force
Rap legend Afrika Bambaataa, or Kevin Donovan—as his parents prefer to call him—changed his name after he won a writing competition, which earned him a life-changing trip to Africa. A couple of years after his breakthrough single in 1981 he collaborated with Soul Sonic Force to create this back-spinningly electronic, politically motivated and percussion infused hip-hop treat. The triumphant lyrics make regular references to heroic figures of the past and influential icons of contemporary street culture.
Walk Like an Egyptian (1986)
by The Bangles
The Bangles are possibly the first and last band to base one of their records on ancient cave drawings. A relentlessly catchy tune, the all-girl group from America had brought archaeology to the masses in a way that no one could have predicted. The song also gave rise to a daft dance which responded obediently to the record title, often with embarrassing results. Popular at weddings and birthdays the choreography involved thrusting your head back and forth using your neck to exaggerate the movements.