The 1980s was a great time for African electronic music, with many subgenres like the Lagos Bougie sound, Burger Highlife, Makossa, Arab Funk (Habibi Funk) and Bubblegum Pop blooming from the fertile sound of the synthesizer and other electronic instruments coming mainly from Europe. Influenced partly by the global funk sound, African artists from Cairo to Johannesburg were inspired by the endless possibilities of inorganic electronically produced sounds and alloyed this new technology with their age-old vocal melody traditions. One of the products of this ingenuity is Steve Monite’s 1984 hit, Only you.
Released via EMI Nigeria, the irresistibly cool, funky and groovy ballad features a prominent Moog Bass guitar synth line that glides behind some sparkly Fender Rhodes chords all through the song, punctuated by various spasmodic swoosh and beeps as Steve Monite in his very relaxed vocal delivery woos his lover to put out the desire burning within. The sonic signature of the track is actually quite similar in style to a lot of bougie records that came out in the 80s, with a prominent use of moody bass lines and tingling synth phrases. However Only You standouts due to the catchy hook that waxes the dance friendly melody of the song produced by Tony Okoroji .
Following the release of Doing It In Lagos (a compilation of Nigerian bougie hits from the 1980s) by Soundway Records, Only You started going through another life cycle; with a remix by Frankie Francis, a cover by Frank Ocean in 2017 and a newly released cover by Tame Impala and Theophilus London. Indeed, this is great for Steve Monite and the entire bougie sound as new listener get to experience the bliss of free-flowing funk for the first time. However, this attention has also come with some curiosity about Steve Monite with a lot of publications and music journalists looking for him in the wrong places.
A great way to find Steve Monite is to invest in the sound of his generation, beyond the classic legends of William Onyeabor and Kiki Gyan and go on to rediscover the wealth of material African artist produced following their flirtations with electronic instruments. As such, we at DANDANO are sharing five deep cuts to set you on a journey of rediscovering the constantly evolving African Electronic Music Sound:
- Jon K – Moko Nshi Omo (1994) |Ghana (Album: Asaboni via Nakasi Records )
2. Brenda Fassie – Qula (1998) | South Africa (Album: Memeza via The CCP Record Company)
3. Onipa Nua – I Feel Alright ( 1989) | Ghana
4. Francis Bebey – The Coffee Cola Song (1982) | Cameroun (Album: Pygmy Love Song via Editions Makossa)
5. Bill Loko – Nen lambo (1980) | Cameroun (Album: Salsa Makossa via Ledoux Records)
Written by Hakeem Adam