Sounds of Africa prevalently seem to travel far beyond imagined borders, influencing cultures further than what curious ears of music lovers can hear.
In Oakland, African beats seem to be in the air. African sounds inspired by or coming out of the continent steal the night in many of the clubs and lounges. African nights percolate with good feel energy amid popular African beats that pervade the club sound speakers, as dance floors pack reverberating bodies to waists shaking, all-night long.
In a sense, you don’t really have to travel far – take a trip to Africa to groove to its rhythms. There are Deejays with ears plugged and fingers on the most popular pulse, spinning and fusing plenty of fresh music coming out of the continent, even if music from West Africa (mostly Naija music) appears to flood the sound speakers. At any rate, these DJs serve as agents who connect Africa to the Diaspora and the rest of the world. Rallying the African Diaspora and beyond, through sound.
Here are highlights of some of the local Deejays in Oakland –stars in their own right, dedicated to elevating their audience with the hottest beats from parts of Africa.
Juan G. of Digging4gold is a Nicaraguan born resident of Oakland. Influenced by Hip-Hop music at an early age, it was then that he was drawn and driven to collecting vinyl – mostly Funk, Soul and Hip-Hop. Through music and beyond, he has traveled from South Africa to parts of West Africa, rooting himself in various local African cultures. During his travels, not only was he DJ-ing, but was also cataloging musical trends in Ghana and Nigeria, which resulted in “The Sound of Africa” mixtape series recorded with his Ghanaian friend DJ Kev. He was also part of a photojournalism music research project focusing on old Ghanaian highlife and funk, which inspired the creation of Digging4gold –a platform featuring lost African recordings often highlighting back-stories and historical context. Since, Juan G. has been gigging to keep “digging for gold.”
In the Bay Area, Juan G. has been producing parties since 2002. You’ll find him spinning wicked blends of the hottest rhythms from various parts of Africa and the diaspora, with a penchant for melding Bass with globally famed Afrobeats (also known as Naija beats) to Jamaican Dancehall, to an all-round waist shaking hot rhythms. Besides many other venues, most recently, Juan G. has been spinning and producing with co-DJs the “Mondial Afrique” Friday nights. Held at AU Lounge – a new venue owned and run by East Africans – this new African night has been packing a diverse crowd, seemingly a popular party night for Oakland’s African music lovers.
Kenyan-born, Bay Area resident Djayslim, crowned as the “sound maestro” is known to seamlessly fuse dance rhythms from West to East Africa, to the Caribbean, and local U.S flavors; packing club beats with Jamaican Dancehall, Hip-Hop, R n’ B and African rhythms. In partnership with DeeJay Burt, he is known to produce one of Oakland’s epic African nights as he notably inspires his audience to “shymie and shake”. Djayslim is recognized for his consistent delivery of Genge, Soul and Urban, and Afrobeat –popular dance music reaching from east to west of the African continent.
Moreover, on Djayslim’s vita is a recent one-year residency at KPFA radio in Berkeley, CA. Additionally, since 2001, he has shared the stage with Snoop Dogg and YG; Caribbean talents such as Konshens, Mr Vegas, Movado, Collie Buddz, Gramps Morgan, Cecile, and Serani; Nigerian artists like P-square, Timaya and Bracket; Kenya’s Longombas, Nonini, Indiginas, and JuaCali; and Tanzania’s Alikiba, and Linah.
Filling the gap for the ever so rare Afro-House and Tribal-House music in Oakland is Bay Area resident DJ Cecil. A well-loved musician, producer & DJ, Cecil is known to take his audience on a journey across a “wide and beautiful spectrum of rhythms”. “He has been recognized by Independent Artists Week for his hard work, innovation and dedication to the community, and is currently an Ocha Recording Artist.”
“Guided by a deep love for music,” Cecil – from Soulful House to Soca, Kudoro to Afro-Beat – is prominent in Oakland’s music scene. Currently in the fore for bringing Afro-House and Tribal-House music to Oakland’s dance party scene, you can find him spinning rich rhythms and deep soulful Afro-House beats to a spitfire remix. He is epically known to hypnotize bodies on the dance floor at “thePeople” –Oakland’s remarkably long-standing party, and “SKIN”, a monthly event he curates with his partner. A co-founder of both dance party events, in the most recent, SKIN is receiving favorable notice as it’s known to celebrate and weave stories of rich, diasporic cultural “dance floor ready” sounds, spreading love through music and getting nods from a packed house.
Look out for Cecil’s upcoming EP –you can get more information here.
There are other Deejays who may not take center stage for spinning African rhythms, but are linked to mixing sounds coming out of West Africa and the diaspora. One is New York-born, California resident DJ Fuze; eminent for his co-production work on Digital Underground’s Grammy nominated and multi-platinum debut album Sex Packets, he is highly recognized for his mixes, with a penchant for Afrobeat.
If you plan to visit Oakland, bring your dancing shoes, and be ready to free the mind and shake the waist to some of the hottest [African] rhythm(s).