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About Mdou Moctar

Mahamadou Souleymane or 1986), known professionally as Mdou Moctar , is a Tuareg songwriter and musician based in Agadez, Niger, who performs modern rock music inspired by Tuareg guitar music. His music first gained attention through a trading network of mobile phones and memory cards in West Africa. He sings in the Tamasheq language. Moctar's fourth album, Ilana: The Creator, released in 2019, was the first to feature a full band. He plays guitar in the takamba and assouf styles.

Mdou Moctar was born in the Nigerien village of Tchintabaraden, and then grew up in Arlit, a mining town. After listening to artists such as Abdallah Oumbadougou he wanted to play the guitar, but his family disapproved of electric music, so he had to build his own guitar using bicycle cables for strings.

His first album, Anar, was recorded in Sokoto, Nigeria, in 2008 and prominently featured autotuned vocals and influences from Hausa music. The album was not officially released at the time but the songs became popular across the Sahel when they went viral through mobile phone music trading networks. Many of Moctar's initial songs were shared as MP3 files person-to-person throughout Niger via Bluetooth without his involvement.

Some of the songs reached a global audience when Sahel Sounds released them on the Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1 compilation. Two songs were covered with English homophone lyrics by Brainstorm, an American band from Portland, Oregon. Anar was released on vinyl in 2014 with a high price, due to "predatory business practices" from Sixt on Moctar's first European tour.

His next album, Afelan, was recorded live in Tchintabaraden and features "rusty-edged jams and sun-weathered ballads". The title track is named after a celebrated historical/folkloric hero of the Azawough of Western Niger. It contains a cover of "Chet Boghassa" by Tinariwen. Moctar became aware of international interest in his music in 2014:

"I first met on the mobile phone as he had called me ... It was a weird conversation, as I thought my cousin was pulling a joke on me so I hung up. This American guy calling me, saying he wanted to work with me for my music, it just couldn’t be real. He called me again and we talked. He came to visit me in my village and also sent me a lefthanded guitar, which is very hard to find in Niger. This guitar has crossed several African countries to arrive in my hands, I have been playing it ever since!"

Moctar released his fifth studio album Ilana in 2019; it was his first studio album recorded with a full band. NPR's Bob Boilen named the album "perhaps the most fiery psych-rock of the 21st century" while Happy Mag placed it at no.13 on their list of "The 25 best psychedelic rock albums of the 2010s", labelling it "serious music for a serious cause." Moctar's sixth album, Afrique Victime, was released via Matador Records on 21 May 2021. The album received positive reviews from international publications including Rolling Stone, Paste, Pitchfork, and The Guardian. His seventh album, Funeral for Justice, was released May 3, 2024, to rave reviews.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mdou Moctar", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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