Coupé-Décalé is a type of popular dance music originating from Côte d'Ivoire and the Ivorian diaspora in Paris, France. Drawing heavily from Zouglou and Zouk with African influences, Coupé-Décalé is a very percussive style featuring African samples, deep bass, and repetitive minimalist arrangements.
|Music of Ivory Coast|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
While Coupé-Décalé is known as Côte d'Ivoire's definitive pop music, it actually began in Paris, created by a group of Ivorian DJs at the Atlantis, an African nightclub in northeast Paris. These Djs, known as the 'Jet Set', became popular for their flamboyant style, often showing up at the club with large amounts of cash which they would hand out to audiences on the dance floor. Their aesthetic defined the early sounds of Coupé Décalé, apparent in the genre's name. In Nouchi (Ivorian slang), Coupé means "to cheat" and Décalé means to "run away", so Coupé-Décalé basically means to cheat somebody and run away. The 'somebody' cheated is generally interpreted to mean France or the West/Europe, finding parallels to the idea of "The Man" in American culture. Especially in the beginning, the songs often celebrated those who had used guile to 'make it' abroad. The word boucantier (English: "shoe-maker") was applied to performers with unusual style, as well as to their imitators.
The genre's first hit, "Sagacité" was pioneered by the late Stephane Doukouré (a.k.a. "Douk-Saga"), a member of the 'Jet Set', during the post-2002 militaro-political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The hit became a success in African clubs in Paris and spread quickly among disc jockeys in Côte d'Ivoire. According to Siddhartha Mitter of Afropop,
"[Coupé-Décalé ] has become very popular at a time of conflict; in fact, Ivorian music has really for the first time taken over dance floors all over Africa at exactly the same time that Ivory Coast, the country, has been going through this protracted political and military crisis, with debilitating social and economic effects".
Although arising from this time of political turmoil, Coupé-Décalé lyrically addresses topics such as relationships, earning money and maintaining a good mood or 'bonne ambiance'. Much of its lyrics refer to specific dance moves, often referencing current events such as the avian flu dance or Guantanamo (with hand movements imitating hands raised in chains). These global themes could have helped to make Coupé-Décalé so deeply popular across a politically divided Côte d'Ivoire and spread its influence so far across Africa and the diaspora. Increasingly non-Ivorian artists, particularly in the Congo, are beginning to play and incorporate the musical style. Notably among these artists are Congolese Djouna "Big One" Mumbafu and French/Malian rapper Mokobe with "Bisous" feat. Dj Lewis and "On Est Ensemble" feat. Molare. Even outside of African and its diaspora, there has been a growing interest in coupé décalé. In February 2009, Akwaaba Music released an Ivorian and Ghanaian compilation, one of the first legal worldwide releases of coupé décalé, highlighting some of the recent coupé décalé released in Côte d'Ivoire. The compilation features music by DJ Menza, DJ Bonano, DJ Mix 1er & Eloh DJ and Kedjevara.
Georges Dyoula has distinguished 3 waves in the development of Coupé-Décalé, with us currently being in the 3rd wave:
In 2005, Vladimir Cagnolari suggests that the music is a way Ivorians are coping with their unstable political situation.
"For a few hours, the rooms is transformed into an ephemeral temple of festival/party, using carefreeness and amusement to counter the socio-political problems of a country still waiting for peace. ... In a musical landscape dominated by patriotic and military music, coupé-décalé arrives like a breath of fresh air to forget the difficult context in which Ivorians are living."
In 2006, Dominik Kohlhagen wrote:
"Over the past three years, Coupé-Décalé has become one of the most thriving forms of popular music in francophone Africa. Produced by people who claim to have achieved "success" abroad, Coupé-Décalé represents "elsewhere" as a site from which one can achieve a certain status in consumer society so as to return home to be celebrated. This music expresses generationel transformations that affect lifestyles in Africa as well as ways of projecting oneself in the world."
The prominent artists of Coupé-Décalé are Douk-Saga (Doukouré) with its Jet Set, DJ Brico, DJ Arsenal, Papa Ministre with his famous tune "Coupé-Décalé Chinois", David Tayorault, Afrika Reprezenta, and many other talented Ivorian artists. DJ Lewis is a particularly notable singer, famous for his Grippe Aviaire Dance (en: avian flu dance).
In 2005, Jessy Matador decided to create his own group called "La Sélésao" composed of members Dr.Love, Linho and Benkoff. The same members also formed the first edition of the group Magic System. In late 2007, they signed with Oyas Records before signing with Wagram Records in spring 2008. They released their début single "Décalé Gwada" in June 2008, becoming one of the hits of that summer. On 24 November 2008 the group released the album Afrikan New Style, a musical hybrid of African and Caribbean influences with more urban sounds. The style includes influences of zouk, dancehall, reggae, hip hop, Coupé-Décalé, ndombolo and kuduro. In June 2013, an upbeat dance song was released on YouTube by Minjin titled "Coupé-Décalé" It featured Iyanya, a Nigerian artist famous for his hit single "Kukere".