The Ghanaian producer mixes traditional Ga music with house and techno on Trotro.
ATFA founder Brian Shimkovitz recently came across DJ Katapila's music on bootleg compilations found in Kumasi, Ghana. Real name Ishmael Abbey, DJ Katapila got his start as a DJ in the '80s but didn't start producing music until the age of 39. Around 1998, Katapila started toasting the mic, rapping and chanting over instrumental breaks and eventually working Yamaha electronic drum pads and samplers into his set. He was given a copy of Fruity Loops and started to make music informed by Ga, a neo-traditional dance music form found around Accra, as well as Western house hits like Inner City's "Big Fun" and Crystal Waters' "Gypsy Woman." In 2009, Katapila released Trotro, a record that became popular in Ghana via the mobile DJ scene, bootlegging and eventually, its association with gbe ohe, a national dance craze.
Awesome Tapes From Africa say Trotro's "Roland TR-808-rooted sounds echo early '90s Detroit techno and Chicago acid house more than the contemporary hiplife productions blasting across Ghanaian airwaves currently." Though Abbey raps in Ga and Twi, he says: "My music is dynamic, my music is for the whole world. Even if you don't understand the lyrics, you can dance to it." Katapila is still active as a professional DJ and producer.
Check out "Cocoawra," in which Abbey mimics street vendors hawking a fermented corn of the same name, below.
04. Nkran Dokunu
08. Trotro (instrumental)
09. Cocoawra (Angel)
Awesome Tapes From Africa will release Trotro on February 19th, 2016.