Barranquilla to Brazzaville
The Sofrito boss picks African and Caribbean tracks that have shaped Colombia’s technicolor renegade soundsystems.
This month we’re celebrating the sounds and rhythms of the picós — the sound systems of the Colombian coast. The towns of Cartagena and Barranquilla are about 500 miles south of Kingston, and while sound systems in Jamaica are an integral part of reggae culture, the sound systems of the Colombian-Caribbean coast have ploughed their own furrow for the past half century, specializing in super-powered Congolese rumba, Kenyan benga and many other styles from across Africa and the Caribbean. Today’s show is a tribute to this unique blend of styles and rhythms, with a selection of classic tracks that range from rumba and soukous to zouk and compas, plus some local champeta and guaracha flavors. We’ll also be playing some snippets of the legendary La Cobra de Barranquilla sound system recorded in 1986, kindly provided by Colombian musical historian Fabian Altahona Romero, editor of the AfriColombia website, and a font of knowledge about the Colombian scene.