Idrissa Diop

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One of the quiet innovators behind the scenes of African music, Idrissa Diop has played a role, sometimes directly but usually indirectly, in much of contemporary Senegalese music. Before Dakar had become…
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One of the quiet innovators behind the scenes of African music, Idrissa Diop has played a role, sometimes directly but usually indirectly, in much of contemporary Senegalese music. Before Dakar had become a hotbed of activity on the world market, Diop was playing the local music circuits as a percussionist with a number of small bands, usually providing the bulk of the arrangements and infusing the traditional music with touches of jazz, funk, and Afro-beat (Fela was a personal hero of sorts for Diop, and later became a major target for help from his political side of work). While performing some of this relatively new music, Diop was spotted by the up-and-coming Youssou N'Dour; N'Dour became the catalyst for Diop's rise to the world scene, commissioning a number of songs. Moving to France as one of many Senegalese musicians making the move to a larger market, he formed the African jazz-rock fusion group Sixun, which became a critical success with a few albums, eventually landing a major-label contract for Lunatic Taxi. Side projects with Ralph Thamar and Ray Lema, among others, kept momentum going for Diop after Sixun's eventual end, with a performance in the BBC's millennium broadcast opening the door for a solo album, Yakar, by 2003. Work on Yakar also led to an ongoing collaboration with Carlos Santana as songwriter and occasional opening act.