18 April 2007

KSA at Starbucks

Its 9:10 am on Tuesday, I am on my way to work and my stomach is growling. I stop at the Starbucks down the road from my office to get a slice of Banana Walnut cake. I braced myself for the usual loooong queue and was pleasantly suprised to find it was only two persons long, nice. As I wait my turn I look at the various items on display for sale; brightly painted mugs, various coffee making contraptions and of course exotically name coffee beans. Its my turn and I place my order I make a silent promise to work and extra 15 mins on the elliptical machine as I added a vanilla mocha, non-fat, no whip to my order - not my fault, the smell of coffee seduced me! As I waited on the other end for my concoction to emerge generally enjoying the combination of the lighting, smell and music, I heard a very familair beat. I must be dreaming, Sunny Ade? In a Starbucks shop? I stepped back from the group of waiting customers and listened carefully. 'Pererem perem pererem pem' (Thats supposed to be a guitar lick!) Yup once again my ears had not fooled me it was Sunny Ade. Who would have thought I would be listening to KSA in a Starbucks shop in sunny California? I couldn't resist swaying to the beat, as my head swelled with pride. I wanted to nudge the person next to me and tell them they were listening to KSA, that he and I are Nigerians and he had actually received a grammy nomination in the 'World' music category for 'Odu' released in '98. I constrained myself though both in voice and hip movements and sang along in my head:

aiye aiye
ebe mo ma b'aiye k'aiye ma ma ba wa ja
aso iyi ko ma faya mo wa lara
aiye le o Adegoke mi aiye ma le
hello o
'ello 'ello o penkele
hello o
'ello 'ello o penkele

My order was ready and as I walked to the car I tried to remember the title of the song I had just heard. Was it 'Aiye le'? Once I got to my desk I searched through my collection of Sunny tracks on my iPod. Nop no song titled 'Aiye le' by Sunny Ade. I got online, nop no such song on iTunes although I did find a song titled 'Aiye le' by Solomon Ilori and one titled 'Aye le' by Tony Allen. No luck on Walmart, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, not even Limewire (I asked a friend to search for me) hmmm ... I could tell I was going to learn a lot about Sunny before the day was up. I tried searching on google using the line I could remember from the song 'Aiye le o ore me aiye ma le'. I found a link to an extensive discography for KSA maintained by a Japanese biochemist named
Toshiya Endo! Imagine that! Not only did he have stuff on Sunny Ade, he had stuff on Shina Peters, Ebenezer Obey, Dele Abiodun, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Kollington, KWAM 1, Ayinla Omowura (imagine!), Haruna Ishola, Oliver de Coque, Prince Nico Mbarga, Sonny Okosun, Victor Olaiya, Victor Uwaifo, Rex Lawson, Youssou N'Dour, Salawa Abeni!!!!!!!!! (E gba mi!!). And of course the Afrobeat king himself Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Has anyone noticed that a lot of old Fela stuff (Koola Lobitos, etc) seem to surface in Japan? I wondered why this Japanese man would have such an interest in African music and would have taken such pains to document it. It appeared he actually had the vinyl originals of some of the great work put out by african artists in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. One cannot begin to put a figure on the worth of such a collection. Whatever his motives I was glad to find that somebody had some form of coherent documentation of the works of these African sons and daughters and promptly emailed him to thank him for taking the pains to do what he did ( I think I thanked him, I did ask if he could help me with my current search). I must point out that I didn't find a song titled 'Aiye le' by Sunny Ade. Perhaps this was not the title of the song. I proceeded to quiz everyone I knew. Everyone seemed to know the song, no one seemed to know the title not even Princess save a very very indigenous friend who told me emphatically that Sunny Ade had no such recording, I.K. Dairo did though. Could there be a repository for the lyrics of african songs? Perhaps Yoruba Google would be able to help out ... nothing. I did confirm that I.K. Dairo recorded a song titled 'Aiye le ore mi'. I have spent way too much time by now searching for this song so I put my search on hold and try and get some work done. I resumed my search when I got home, still no luck. Shebi I heard the song played at a Starbucks store. I am sure they will have a song list or something. Yeah I am thinking they will so I put all thoughts of Sunny Ade out of my mind and settle down to watch Idol (go Melinda go!!!!). Today I stopped at the Starbucks store and asked about the music selection of the day before, 'Oh we played a reggae selection cd yesterday' No you didn't I say to myself. 'Really? I was in between 9 and 9:30 am yesterday' I replied. 'Hang on let me get the list of stuff we played yesterday' she replied. The girl no lie, the list was titled 'Reggae Selections' and there it was, 'King Sunny Ade - Penkele' atleast they got the name right. How can you hear this music and classify it as reggae? I returned the list to her and informed her that King Sunny Ade was actually not a reggae musician, he is from Nigeria and his music is classified as Juju. She gave me a preoccupied smile, why am I worrying myself sef, she probably thinks Nigeria is just down the road! Finally! Phew. I can rest now I feel like a load has been lifted off my shoulders.

FYI - 'Penkele' is a track off the 'Synchro System' Album released on the Mango Records label ( a subsidiary of Island Records) in 1983. It was the 2nd of the 3 albums Sunny Ade would release on the label. (The first was 'Ja Funmi' in '82 the third was 'Aura' in '84). According to the discography on Toshiya's site the song was also included on the b-side of 'Ajoo' also released in 1983 as well as the cd titled 'The land of Carthage' released on the label Dynamite in 1994


wienna said...

Buahaaaaoooo...u're such a weird & funny chick o. For u to go thru dat length. Naija for life o. It amuses and makes me proud as well when i hear a Fela tune playing on BBC.

ababoypart2 said...

I am also on the look out for 80s Nigerian music. willing to pay and not use Limewire....Its just a bit scarce...

adefunke said...

@ababoypart2 - Nigerian 80's music is not as scarce as you might imagine. Check iTunes and Walmart.com for digital music. Check Amazon.com for cds and ebay.com for vinyls.

Anonymous said...

Hi Funke
I have been following your blog for quite some time now and i must say i really really enjoy reading your blog. The one you wrote about your Mum really been a contributing factor to your success in school really hit home with me cause about a day before i ready that blog, myself and my hubby had a difficult discussion with his junior brother that was sort of misbehaving. He just finally secured admission to Unilag after so many yrs of writing JAMB. We believed at age 25 he should be focused on studies rather than trying to impress pple in school. Anyway i printed that blog and took it home for him to read. I share the same opinion with you and it the same grades i had in school that is taking me through life now.
I really enjoy your blogs and this one about sunny ade is really of the hook!!!


olufunke said...


my namesake, i too felt such pride when i heard a sunny song in a starbucks--i heard it in a gainesville, florida one though. i'm enjoying your blog!


Olawunmi said...

i am actually just as bad as you are. in so many respects. i go out to a bar here in manchester and hear a femi kuti song, and my heart bursts with pride.

at the Sunglass Hut at London's heathrow airport, i hear 2face idibia's african queen, and i run in to see if the person playing it is naija. i almost jump out of my skin when i realise the whole store is staffed by oyinbos.

when i hear a song that i don't know, or one that interests me, i follow it until i find out all the information, and then i refuse to rest until i have the cd or mp3 file (actually, the whole album, an dthen the artist's entire discography). thats why my 60gb ipod is full. yes, full. 12,000 high-quality songs.

i have that sunny song. i actually have the album. funny, i also have quite a lot of the old albums from the 70s and 80s. for me, those were the golden years. the music was tight, the proverbs and adages were so apt. even the praise-singing was ego-inflating to a fault. sweet music!

its amazing how these foreigners can appreciate our music so much, when they neither understand it the language, nor the culture that gave birth to it. yet they do. even more than we do. reminds me of the biblical story of the rich man who planned a feats in his estate. when his rich friends neglected to come, he threw his gates open to the poor.

i do understand why that song was in a reggae compilation though. ksa played at the reggae sunsplash concerts in the 80s, at the height of his international fame. that exposed concert-goers in jamaica (and people who saw the videos) to his music. because of those circumstances, anyone compiling hits from those concerts would naturally add his music to the same genre. at least he got exposed.

if you want, i can hook you up with some of the sunny albums. let me know. great post!

adefunke said...

@olufunke - Hi, nice to meet u.
@olawunmi - U must be my twin from another mother! I already bought the Sunny album. I am looking for a particular Orlando Julius song, or I think its an Orlando Julius song, these are the lyrics I remember:
Come dance with me
dance afrobeat
all over the world
dance to afrobeat

Ring any bells?


Oh my, I just had a KSA moment last week myself that sent me to some incredible kengths. There was an in-depth discussion of some re-released albums on NPR and they played a few bars from 'Ja Funmi'. I am absolutely in love with the song and can imagine it being updated with som modern hip hop beats and stong guitar riffs. I swear they could play that song on the radio right now even though it was recorded over 20 years ago!

Anyway, just thought I'd share my KSA moment. The guy is a legend! Too bad I can't find any reference to a video for the song. Would love to include it on my youtube page. lol!

adefunke said...

@solomonsydelle - Enough KSA videos on Youtube o!