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"Dogo From Togo"

Dogo From Togo

Tuesday, July 27 2010 @ 02:26 AM EDT

Contributed by: TOrr

Adje!Adje! (Azalea City Recordings, 2010)

Living in Washington D.C., the political epicenter of the United States, can give you a feel for how lousy things are. For an African immigrant musician from the small country of Togo (look hard on the map, you’ll see it), our nation’s capital is an ideal place from which to express discontentment through music. Still, there’s no reason the music can’t be lively and danceable as well as plainspoken. Massama Dogo- singer, guitarist and composer -understands as much.

Taking a cue from the Fela Kuti-inspired legions of musical protestors as well as the underexposed musical traditions of his native land, he and his band Elikeh tear into Adje!Adje!, an album that grooves the way West African music did when it was influenced heavily by Western rock. But forget any retro pretensions. The lyrics emerging from the ripple of guitars, horns, bass, drums and percussion (keyboards are absent but not missed) sing ever-relevant songs of government corruption, political folly, the need for unity and the like.

It’s not all business, though. “Get Ready” and “Jondji” are invitations to come and dance, and even the serious intents of “Djale” and “Madjo” are cooled by unexpected acoustic riffs. While I particularly like “Let’s March,” a version of a song originally by Nigeria’s O.J. Ekemode, the whole disc packs a thinking man’s punch.

Dogo’s voice and guitar lead with authority and the assist he gets from players like Michael Shereikis (from D.C. Afrobeat band Chopteeth) makes for a whole lot of militant fun.

07/27/10 >> - world music central

"Vieux Farka Toure - Elikeh -- DC9 - April 26 2010"

Elikeh - I saw this local band open for Toure last year (previous review). They did a great job then and did a great job tonight. They had singer/rhythm guitarist from Togo originally coupled with a rhythm section, conga player, lead guitarist and two saxophones who also added percussion. I don't know much about Togo, other than Emmanuel Adebayor, but I don't think that matters a whole lot as it is a mixed band and brings combined styles into an excellent final product. The lead guitarist was hot and I liked that the saxophones did not overwhelm. They could not help but lend a certain jazz feel, but they dropped to the background often and let the other players in. This guy I met, Felipe, reminded me of the great African percussion group, Osibisa, who I do recall. A good band worth seeing on its own around town, but thankfully were given the call again to open for the headliner tonight.

Vieux Farka Toure - This great guitarist, son of a great guitarist, put on one of the best sets I saw last year and delivered the goods again tonight. Unfortunately, this time it was at a jam packed DC9 as opposed to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. It was close to sold out on a Monday night and was jammed to the gills downstairs before the show as the DC9 was late as usual in allowing people up. But the vibe was all good once the music flowed. The first song was amazing in its sinewy playing and reminded me heavily of Turkish great, Erkin Koray. And although Toure eventually played music very different from Koray, they do share a similarity of bringing their regional style to the world by combing some classic rock, blues and psyche elements to the mix. Toure's band is not overwhelming in size, just in the delivery. He has a rhythm section, conga player, and acoustic guitarist. The congas and his leads are the main attraction with the other three laying it down for those two to go wild. My African musicologist friend (he's lived in Mali for many years) next to me was able to describe some of the differences in songs such as the northern Mali songs he played which had a more snaky upper body dance flow than the other Mali songs with a punchier beat. But Toure then goes where he wants to whenever he wants to and makes great music out of it. Jimi Hendrix was channeled and he played some of his father's music as well. Hopefully his legend will continue to grow and he can play the bigger clubs in town with the growing fan base he deserves.

Quote of the Night: Toure, after the opening cut waving his hand and getting a wave and hellos back from the crowd... "That's to the technician actually, but hello"
- DC rock live

"Global Beat Fusion: Algeria Rocks, Togo Rolls"

There's a photo of Elikeh singer/guitarist Massama Dogo on the inset of his band's recent album, Adje! Adje!, that immediately captures your attention. The man is standing during performance, guitar strapped around his shoulder, whistle in mouth, eyes wide through glasses staring out into the crowd beyond. It is a determined and fixed stare, one necessary to navigate through the political world of Washington DC. Yes, music obviously has its politics, but Dogo also refers back to his homeland for influence, the tiny West African Togolese Republic, a 22,000-square-mile enclave wedged between Benin and Ghana with a population of 6.7 million. Yes, shades of Ghana's music, not to mention a little Nigerian Afrobeat are included in this worthwhile ten-song outing, but make no mistake: it is a guitar-driven effort. No surprise, given that Dogo once lead a guitar ensemble in his home country. Don't think it's all rock; the soft strums on "Djalele" allow Dogo's rough, informal vocal style to shine. This is first and foremost a poetic effort, one that the man has injected plenty of feeling into. But yes, when he allows his guitar to rip atop the danceable, saxophone-led rhythm of the title track, you know where this band stands. More than Afrobeat, Elikeh reminds me more of the great guitar-driven Senegalese dance bands that Orchestra Baobab exemplifies. Infusing an upbeat local style, agbadja, underneath the hard pulse of "Novi Nne" and "Get Ready," as well as singing in four languages (Ewe, Mina, French, English), Dogo has assembled a worthy cast of musicians for this fine release, one I can only imagine as intense and determined as the photograph that represents the future he stares out into 06/07/10 >> - Huffington post

"Gig alerte: elikeh"

Togolese born musician Massama Dogo, leader of the Washington, D.C. band Elikeh, has made it his life's work to craft a distinctly Togolese sound that also borrows from the grittiness of rock. On this title track from Elikeh's newest album, you'll hear bits and pieces of Western music that mingle with a West African tone. Guitar and horns front this political tune while hints of Afropop and Afrobeat underscore the track. - WNYC


Singer-songwriter Massama Dogo fronts Afro-funk-ateers Elikeh, whose delicious beats are guaranteed 100% boredom-proof.
- time out new york

"Review of 'Adje! Adje!,' by Afropop band Elikeh"

The West African nation of Togo doesn't have the same reputation for churning out Afropop as countries such as Ghana, Mali and Nigeria. But D.C.-based Elikeh, fronted by Togolese singer-guitarist Massama Dogo, is seeking to change that with its mix of Afrofunk, highlife and roots -- a style it calls "Afro-high."

Elikeh's new album, "Adje! Adje!," is a serious call to action that maintains a vibe of jubilant perseverance throughout. Dogo's lyrics, sung primarily in a blend of French and the African languages Ewe and Mina, are layered over rhythms from percussionist Joseph "Papa Jo" Ngwa and drummer Tosin Aribisala and copious amounts of guitar from Michael Shereikis, John Lee and Dogo himself.

The title track is political cautionary tale, while "Oleblemi" is all joyful, skittering horns and '70s Afrorock influences. On "Madjo," Dogo's beautiful voice is served with nothing more than soft guitar accompaniment, while the near-five-minute "Get Ready," an instrumental punctuated by a few exuberant shouts, puts on full display the rhythms of Afrofunk.

Dogo has said that getting play in Togo, with its focus on the sounds of other countries rather than its own, is difficult, but hopefully tracks like "Let's March," which has Elikeh modifying a piece from Nigeria's Orlando Julius Ekemode in its own style, will soon be heard, as the songs says, from Lomé to D.C.

Elikeh performs May 27 at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

-- Sarah Godfrey - Washington post

"Beyond Fela Kuti, The Enduring Appeal Of Afrobeat"

A June 21, 2010
By now, a fairly wide assortment of pop-music fans would know what I was talking about if I noted that, in the late 1960s, bandleader Fela Kuti invented a style called Afrobeat with the key collaboration of his drummer, Tony Allen.

That I don't have to explain more about who Fela Kuti was or what Afrobeat sounds like is a testament to the remarkable, accelerating rise of Fela's fame since his death in 1997. Large record stores, what's left of them, often have whole "Afrobeat" sections in world-music departments, and more major cities are home to local Afrobeat bands than ever before.

The prime living player to thank for this is Allen, who has keeping up the good work all along. His newest solo album is called Secret Agent, and it sounds like the most fully rounded version of Tony Allen Afrobeat he's ever made.

Allen has gone through three phases in his career of more than 30 years. His first solo albums, in the '70s, were sturdy extensions of Fela's work — long, long workouts without Fela's outsized personality to drive them forward. In the '80s and for a long time afterward, Allen switched to a stripped-down type of Afrobeat, influenced by dub reggae, spacey Nigerian juju and electronica. This mode is best sampled on the fine anthology Eager Hands and Restless Feet.

Now, Allen has completed the circle, and Secret Agent gives us compact cuts driven by his personality — or at least his polyrhythms. Allen writes in the liner notes that "Fela wrote like a singer, I write like a drummer." That's a way of saying the multilingual lyrics shouldn't be a primary concern here. But it's refreshing to hear a wider variety of voices deliver them.

These days, Afrobeat listeners can decide what variety of Afrobeat they want to hear. There are groups that stick to Fela's basics without sucking the vitality out of them. One of the best of these is the French group Fanga, with particularly tangy horn charts. But if you want to delve into Afrobeat, stretched out and put into a lively mix, the Washington, D.C.-based group Elikeh does a clever and sure-footed job on its album Adje! Adje!

There's as much reggae as Afrobeat in the music of Elikeh, and the folk forms of leader Massama Dogo's native country Togo play a strong role. But it is the attitude of the group, the confident way to make an American-African album, that would be unimaginable without the influence of Fela. Except that, while Fela's bands always suggested a gang with a big-time bad-boy leader, Elikeh is more like a seductive collective, forever inviting you to dance or fight the power, or both at the same time.

Varied and strong as the current Afrobeat scene is, no performers so far are going to take the style away from Fela Kuti. And that's good. But it would be even better if there were a sudden new star powerful enough to do it.


"Nyade" 2006.
adje!adje! 2010 (azalea city recordings)



Elikeh is a washington DC based afropop band led by the togolese born Massama Dogo a that perform its own brand of smoking afropop and afrofunk.
the style is a combination of traditional rythms from Togo and the 70's afrofunk. Elikeh was able to realize its artistic vision, creating original music that fuses indigenous Togolese traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities. Departing form the trends, Elikeh carves out their own musical space