The influence of Ivorian music in the early 2000's.

“My favourite pastime is watching early 2000’s Ivorian music videos — so many fashions”. (I guess all my think pieces start with something I’ve initally tweeted). I realised that whenever I feel uninspired, I look to my roots, to get right back on track.


The 2000’s era is iconic for many reasons, to this day we can see a lot of 2000’s western influence in music and fashion. Just like energy cannot be destroyed, trends always come back around. Today I want to talk about the contribution Africa – specifically Cote D’Ivoire’s diaspora made to reoccurring trends in those same fields.

Being half Cameroonian & Ivorian (born in France raised in the UK), I grew up with family and family friends in a time where our community was heavily influenced by music and fashion – my elders indulged in what brought joy during a tumultuous time in our country. Growing up all I remember doing at parties was watch Ivorian people show up and show out. What inspired me were the branded clothes, matching shoes and purses my mom and aunties wore. I would never dance but I watched uncles huddle up on the dance floor and show off new dance moves, it was really a time of enjoyment. Today I wanted to acknowledge how my community had a large part to do with influencing other countries when it’s artist were in their prime. I feel like the closest country to relate to the kind of buzz Ivory Coast had in the 2000’s is Nigeria right now. Everyone has heard about or been to a Nigerian wedding, because of the “vibe”. Unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of attending a Nigerian or Ivorian wedding in a decade. I must admit us Ivorians are troublesome and love “affairage” which means to gossip, which continues to divide our community – however no one can take away the wave of enjoyment we create as soon as we unite.

Outside of the western world the Y2K was a phenomenal era for the invention of dances from Ivorian music. Globally known Coupé Décalé was pop dance music that was popularised in this era by the Ivorian diaspora in Paris, it’s créateur Douk Saga. Our dearly departed DJ Arafat (who died from a motorbike accident just last year) took over the reigns of the genre. His legacy became when paying homage to the late King of Coupé Décalé Douk Saga with “Hommage a Johnathan” – which became a party anthem for all Ivorians, celebrating the life of Douk. During a time of conflict Douk gave us music for enjoyment, he endorsed a life of glamour and flamboyance. The idea of making it out, to be stylish and to dash out large sums of cash on the dance floor was a thing we Ivorians also love to do.

Dj Arafat — Hômmage A Jonathan

I massively regret never dancing because I was always ashamed of not being able to absolutely kill it. You may have heard of 1er Gaou by Magic System? Si? everybody say “nangelenangelewaaaa nangelenangelewaaaa”! This song was released almost 20 years ago and still, the Zouglou effect has transcended to the younger African diaspora. To break down the song – it’s about a girl who left her fella during his grinding era before he blew up (Magic System blowing up in Paris) she intends to get back with him once she has seen the popularity and money he has acquired for his talent. She wants to “tek him for eediat” or should I say premier gaou (the first fool) in Ivorian slang. There’s no wonder we can still relate to this song, as these type of golddigging situations still occur today making 1er gaou one of magic systems most timeless songs.

A talent I have to give credit to is how Ivorian DJ’s have the ability to make a song about absolutely anything. Ivorian slang is a massive part of the diaspora in Europe. The fact alone that the actual definition of ‘Coupe Decale’ means to ‘cut and run’ and we the people ran with it says a lot about the grand influence these artists had, especially in an era where the internet was only just beginning to develop. I remember seeing my step dad receive burned CD’s and cassettes from DJ’s. He would share them with his pals. Thinking back the movement was pretty fast pace, that was our airdrop and everyone caught on or was put on to the latest dance move. An artist with iconic status in my book is Cristy B and there are several reasons why. The flow that a lot of DJ’s used in the years preceding the 2000’s was because of Christy B. The cadence and rhythmic flow of his voice is what shaped a lot of artists to come, such as Dj Lewis whose mood board had Christy’s face on it!

They say black people naturally have rhythm but an Ivorians foot work is truly something to rave about. To this day how crowds belt out to Burna Boy Yé is the same way we chant in unison to 1er gaou. Evenmore the way everyone freestyle dances to bablee sous les cocotiers is exactly how twerking originated from Mapouka. Today we have the likes of Ivoriandoll dominating the UK drill scene as a female rapper and is quite successful at it, alongside our brother Afro B UK artist whose infectious 2018 tune “Joanna (Drogba)” made waves. He coined the term “afro-wave” for his style of music branching from Afrobeats which is we all know is incredibly popular right now.

The Twitter timeline is often filled up of 3 exhausting topics: Roles played in relationships, salary and the never ending Nigerian verzus Ghanaian jollof wars. You will occasionally find a video of homer simpson rotating his hips like an authentic Congolese. Yet I rarely hear about Ivorians and the way our people can cut up, I would love to see it.

UAL BA Journalism Grad:

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