Occur Goes Global - The Music of Guinea-Bissau

Though they share similar names, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau are unique countries. Today we’re focusing on the former Portuguese colony where animism meets Latin flavors. Here are five artists from Guinea-Bissau you need to know about.


DJ Joao Vaz

Incorporating what he calls “ancestral” choirs with feverish house rhythms, this in-demand DJ has charmed audiences in London, New York and elsewhere. Within a single mix, you can hear the true spirit of gumbe, a type of aural melting pot that is distinctly Guinea-Bissauan. There is Portuguese percussion, syncopated tribal beats, spiritually tinged melodies and electronic zaps that catapult these tracks into the future. Dig Vaz’s reimagining of Ed Sheeran’s “Barcelona” above.


MC Domas

From Mama Africa to the snowy region of Finland, Domingos Bodjam packages Christianity with secular gleeful horns and drums. He doesn’t proselytize; instead he demonstrates joy and unity within each song and with each knowing look to his backing musicians. Reggae, gospel, pop—whatever your taste, MC Domas aims to deliver with a positive message.


Eneida Marta


Eneida Marta’s voice is as warm as the savannah sun. She sings every note with a casual grace that is so rare in Western music. She grew up competing in talent shows and moved to Portugal to work with storied producer Juca Delgado, according to her Facebook page. She released her debut album, Nô Stória, in 2001 and has since been creating art that speaks to the soul. Mellow, comforting and sweet, Marta’s music is perfect for a relaxing weekend.


Manecas Costa

Speaking of soothing voices, Manecas Costa has a velvet tenor that could calm the most irate among us. Taking his socially conscious cadre from his home country to Lisbon, Portugal, to escape civil war, Costa has earned the adoration of many. Whether he’s setting figurative fire to the electric guitar or weaving magic on an acoustic, this artist knows his way around a fretboard and around political prose.


Mû Mbana

You go on a journey through time whenever you listen to Mbana’s music. His rich, deep singing and staccato strings take you back to pre-colonial Bissau, to mainland Portugal, to destinations yet unnamed. Songs such as “Colon Bai” transcend modernity and tradition and practically rip open a fourth dimension of sound and vision. Take the trip and lose yourself willingly.

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