North Carolina introduces me to Coupe Decale
So I had just been picked up from a long, turkey eatin’ packed, cross country flight, I am exhausted, and I am cranky. In order to spare my family my negative humor, I ask my dad to stop at the gas station on the way home. I jump out and walk in to buy a pack of smokes. We are 45 minutes outside of Charlotte and it is rural. Very rural. Behind the counter a black African is on his phone. He shoves my pack of cigarettes at me but I have become transfixed by the small laptop he has set on a side counter to entertain him while he works. Men are jumping up and down on the screen. I hear that it is hip-hop, but it isn’t anything I have ever seen before and it definitely isn’t in English. “HEY,” I cut into the service attendant’s conversation, “what is that?” He begins to laugh, that deep cheerful giggle that only Africans can do. He is obviously highly amused by the strung out American girl’s request. “It is hip hop from Mali,” he replies. I cajole him into writing down the name for me– he laughs hysterically the entire time– get home without alienating my family, and youtube “coupe decale”.
Coupe Decale is actually a new sound from Cote d’Ivoire and reportedly began in the African clubs of Paris before migrating back home. It describes both a dance style and a style of music that has a Congolese rhythm and early Ivorian zouglou sound, and is sung in French or Twi.
Coupe decale can have a hard, dancehall like sound to it:
Or it can be softer and pretty:
And it is always, but always, about the moves.