Rocking Dakar

Takeifa's sound is a welcome alternative to the more common mbalax music that dominates Senegal's pop music scene.

Jac Keita and Maa Khoudia of Takeifa playing at a festival in Madrid. Image: IMAGENMADRID.

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.

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