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Mdou Moctar: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


Get ready for some fiery desert guitar-shredding, Saharan style, with the music of Mdou Moctar. Producer and American bassist Mikey Coltun told me that "the concert was filmed outside of the house we were all staying at in Niamey, Niger, in November/December 2020." He continued, "As with any sort of musical happenings in the region, once some music is blasted, that's an invitation for anyone to come join, sing, clap, dance, and just come together as a community. We wanted to present the Tiny Desk exactly like this, from when we started playing to finally the energy growing with fans crowded around filming on their cell phones and passing around Tuareg tea."

The (home) concert starts off with Mahamadou Souleymane, a.k.a. Mdou Moctar, playing a melodic line on acoustic guitar, with Ahmoudou Madassane on rhythm guitar, Souleymane Ibrahim playing percussion on a calabash, and Mikey Coulton on his Fender Mustang bass on the song "Ya Habibti" from the album Afrique Victime. It's an album of songs dealing with intense subjects close to Mdou Moctar's heart: colonialism, exploitation, inequality, but also love.

You can hear the real musical fire on the last song, the roughly 7-minute psych-rock title track to Afrique Victime. "Africa is a victim of so many crimes," Mdou Moctar sings in French."If we stay silent, it will be the end of us." Silence is not something in Mdou Moctar's vocabulary.

SET LIST

  • "Ya Habibti"
  • "Tala Tannam"
  • "Afrique Victime"
  • MUSICIANS

  • Mahamadou "Mdou Moctar" Souleymane: lead guitar, vocals
  • Ahmoudou Madassane: rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Mikey Coltun: bass
  • Souleymane Ibrahim: calabash
  • CREDITS

  • Video: Mamadou Halidou, WH Moustapha, Sabrina Nichols
  • Audio: Mikey Coltun, Seth Manchester
  • Special Thanks: Dynamique Image and Machines with Magnets
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Video Producer: Kara Frame
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Associate Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Tiny Production Team: Maia Stern, Gabrielle Pierre
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.