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Harafinso: Bollywood Inspired Film Music from Hausa Nigeria

(Sahel Sounds; US: 7 May 2013; UK: 18 Jun 2013)

I was going well in the informative booklet until I came to, “The selections on this disk are not all film music,” which yanked me up short. Why not? Doesn’t the cover say ... Well some of the songs were made by musicians who used to work in film but now they don’t, it explains. They have stopped. Now they have careers outside film. Then which songs are which, I wondered? Is Karamin Lilisco’s “Fashion” a film song, with that quote from “Smooth Criminal” at the end? We don’t have dates—are the tracks recent? They sound recent, they all have the same fingerprint, everybody is autotuned and the instrumental parts of the songs share a brittle-cellophane synethesiser sound and a hurrying heartbeat. It gets monotonous. Even the slower songs (“Aure” by Maryam Olomi) and the reggae ones have an out-of-breathness, as if there’s somewhere they need to reach in a hurry. Are there other kinds of songs in Hausa films? Are there drifting dreamy songs? We’ve only scratched the surface here I think. A curated overview of northern Nigeria’s film music from early days to the present, with a title for each film and notes on the singers would be better, but does such a thing exist? I don’t know. I am piqued.

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