Posts Tagged ‘music’

Mount Cameroon (Tuesday, 2011 December 27)

December 28th, 2011

Haven’t written in a while. It’s been busy; since coming back from the Maroc I’ve been back to post, then to a wedding, then, in a fit of senselessness, to Mount Cameroon. A bunch of people climbed it last year, and although I was never really interested in going up there, word on the street was that it’s hell, but worth it for the descent on the other side (lava fields and crap). Apparently dry season is the best time to climb Mount Cameroon, which for Education Volunteers means Winter Break. Everyone else in my stage has either already climbed it or had no interest in climbing it, so I was unable to convince any Volunteers to come with. Instead I went with Boris. Boris has some weird male-ego bullshit going on, and so it was important to him that we prove that we were very strong, and especially that we were stronger than the group of women, including my postmate, who had made the journey a few weeks ago.

I will spare you the details of just how the trip went. I will tell you that we didn’t make it to the top, due to some kind of foodborne illness afflicting both me and Boris. We turned around about the middle of the second day, and managed to get back to Buea, the nearest city, by nightfall. Over the two days of hiking, I got to listen patiently to Boris as he talked, variously, about: how strong he was, how strong we were, how weak I was, (after he threw up) how weak he was, and finally about how strong we were. Then: the singing. Francophones singing English songs generally involves a lot of mumbling and guesswork. "We Are The World" is not improved by such treatment.

One way or another we got down without my stabbing him and then crashed at Allison’s. Allison’s brother and his wife are in town for a couple weeks, and we got down in time for Christmas. When in Rome, make Romanade, so me and Boris joined them for Christmas on the Beach in Limbe. Nice place.

Boris recently bought a CD of Nigerian music. Cameroonians are often quite eager to play music, sometimes even when other music is already playing. Accordingly, we got to introduce Allison’s family to the latest musical craze — the equivalent of their Top 40 being played to death across the nation — which is to say that if you know anyone in Cameroon at all right now, they are probably hearing this song (hi Lauren’s mom!). It’s called "Chop My Money" by Nigerian band P-Square (so-named because its members are the brothers Peter and Paul). The lyrics do rely a little bit on some cultural background — in this part of the world, purchasing things for someone is a completely legitimate way to earn their affection. The bigger the purchase, the more the affection. "Chop" is Pidgin for "to eat" or "food", and so a girlfriend might legitimately be expected to chop your money. Which seems like a bad thing, but the singer of this particular song is saying that he is completely willing and even eager for the object of his affection to chop his money, because she’s so beautiful and he has so much money ("Cos I get ‘am plenty").

Uploaded: 01 – P-Square – Chop My Money.mp3 (MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, JntStereo, 4.0 MiB)

I’ve also been reading REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson (thanks Allison!). I’m not quite finished with it yet, and as such I’m a little hesitant to say very much. I will say that in my opinion, REAMDE may sometimes look like Stephenson but is not Stephenson. Which is to say it’s more like Tom Clancy. The review says that each Stephenson book is completely unlike the others — which is true to an extent. But there’s always at least one big idea which is to an extent the spine of each work — whether it’s the Metaverse, post-national United States, cryptography, platonic ideals, or gold — and in REAMDE the spine of the work is just a simple adventure thriller. Cryptonomicon is the comparison I keep coming back to — which is also a great yarn, but a nerd yarn, mostly about nerds. In REAMDE the nerds are almost peripheral to the story. Example: "REAMDE" is the title of the book and for a while it seems like it’ll be a plot point. Spoiler alert: It’s not. The writing is also tangibly different — thorough, meticulous, almost plodding. I’m enjoying it all the same, of course — but it’s not really what I was expecting.

Other than that I found myself interacting quite politely and with kindness and friendship to a student at the lycée, which hasn’t happened since the beginning of my service. Guess I had a refreshing vacation.


Anaïs (Sunday, 2011 October 9)

October 12th, 2011
Uploaded: Samy Diko – Anaïs.mp3 (Audio file with ID3 version 2.3.0, contains: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, JntStereo, 4.0 MiB)

Here is a song that I heard once upon a time in the weird linguistic limbo at Up Station in Bamenda, neither wholly Anglophone nor wholly Francophone, but somehow a little of both. It is therefore one of the songs (like "Quality Doctor") that I’ve been hunting for a while. It turns out to be by a performer named Samy Diko; I bought a CD "of his" at the village marché yesterday for 300 CFA. It’s all MP3s so I’ll probably be uploading a few more of them.

The lyrics go:

C’est toi qui m’as tout appris
Les bonnes choses et les mauvaises aussi
Dans tes oreilles, je t’ai murmuré,
Dans tes bras, je me suis confié, Anaïs (ah oui)
Je t’aime, je t’ai donné mon coeur, ai
Tu m’as laissé tomber, tu est allée ailleurs
Tu m’as laissé tomber, tu m’as brisé le cœur
Les projets que toi et moi, on avait
Tu les as laissé tomber pour aller ailleurs
Aujourd’hui tu est allée à villa, tu laisse tomber [et ta beauté???]
Là où toi et moi, on avait commencé
C’est toi qui m’as tout appris
Les bonnes choses et les mauvaises aussi
Anaïs, pourquoi tu m’as fait ça?
Toi et moi, depuis nos debuts
Mais aujourd’hui tu as vu la lumière du jour
Tu as laissé tomber.. la torche
Anaïs, Anaïs
Il n’y aura pas une autre comme toi
Tu m’as laissé tomber, tu m’as brisé le cœur
Tu m’as laissé tomber, tu est allée ailleurs

—Samy Diko, "Anaïs"

Translated with no regard whatsoever to poetic beauty:

It’s you who taught me everything
The good things, and the bad things too
In your ears, I murmured to you
In your arms, I entrusted myself
I love you, I gave you my heart
You let me go, you went elsewhere
You let me go, you broke my heart
The plans that you and I, we had
You let them go to go elsewhere
Today you went to the villa, you let go [and your beauty???]
Where you and I, we started
Anais, why did you do this to me?
You and I, since our beginnings
But today you saw today’s light
You let go.. the torch
There will not be another one like you
You let me go, you broke my heart
You let me go, you went elsewhere

It’s obviously a breakup song, but as a linguistic note it’s interesting that he uses "tu" forms to address the woman who dumped him. "Tu" forms predominate here in Cameroon when addressing singular people — only in rare, formal situations do "vous" forms come out — but still I like to think that once you’ve achieved a certain level of intimacy with someone, they can never become a formal "vous" for you ever again.

Uploaded: Samy Diko – Tromper.mp3 (Audio file with ID3 version 2.3.0, contains: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, JntStereo, 4.0 MiB)

For contrast, here’s another song by the same artist. You can here that the melody he sings is pretty much the same, but the background changes. It’s like that in a few other songs too, which is maybe why none of them grab me the way "Anaïs" does.


Physician (Saturday, 2011 August 27)

August 27th, 2011

I got a couple questions about music in Cameroon, and the fact is there are a few tracks I’m kind of fond of. To buy music here you can either go to the téléchargeurs, downloaders in town who have large collections of presumably illegal music on their computers, and they’ll burn you a CD of whatever you want. There are also walking vendors that sell CDs of whatever they think will sell. At my latest village marché, I asked one if he had any Nigerian music, which is at least in English. He sold me a VCD with 19 tracks listed (about 7 work), which I just ripped. This is one of my favorite songs in this country, apparently its title is "Qualify Doctor". The chorus goes:

I’m not a qualify doctor
She want me to give her injection
I’m not a qualify physician
She want me to give her injection
This girl di look for my trouble
She want me to give her injection
The guy tell e look for my wahalla
She want me to give her injection

—Polaino, "Qualify Doctor"

Here’s the video track. Uh, be aware it might not be safe for work.

Uploaded: Polaino – Qualify Doctor.mpg (MPEG sequence, v1, system multiplex, 51.0 MiB)

I know you want that bitch on your next mixtape too, so here’s an mp3, complete with the badly-mixed clipping.

Uploaded: Polaino – Qualify Doctor.mp3 (Audio file with ID3 version 2.4.0, extended header, contains: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, Stereo, 4.0 MiB)

Here’s a blog post by already-returned Volunteer Kevin which, among other things, includes a bunch of links to Youtube videos of typical music to hear in Cameroon.

Shout out to all my friends and family in NYC. Hope you’re all safe and dry and the city doesn’t wash away!


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