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Berlin Meets Senegal On Henrik Schwarz’ Remix of Baaba Maal’s Anthemic “Fulani Rock”

The lead track off the Senegalese producer’s electronically influenced 11th album gets taken to the club.
February 3, 2016, 4:04pm

In January, Senegalese vocalist and guitarist Baaba Maal dropped his 11th studio album, The Traveller, on Palm Recordings. Recorded between London and Senegal, the record is a globetrotting portal into what can happen when traditional African rhythms both coexist and expand on dance-leaning sounds—the latter in this case provided by the album's producer, Johan Hugo Karlberg, a London-based artist known for his work with The Very Best, another famously genre-hopping group.

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For Maal, the album provided another way to connect to the history of his native Fulani people—kicking off with the anthemic "Fulani Rock." In addition to working with Karlberg, Maal recruited some dancefloor-minded producers to remix the title track including Lit City Trax' DJ Spoko, who recently suffered some unfortunate health issues, and is known for his self-styled "bacardi house," as well as a remix by Berlin house artist Henrik Schwarz. You can listen to Schwarz's remix below.


Spread throughout West Africa, Central Africa, the Sudan and Egypt, Maal's Fulani people represent the world's largest pastoral nomadic group in the world, meaning they move constantly herding livestock from place to place, looking for fresh pastures on which the animals can feed. "Music serves a huge purpose," says Baaba Maal over email. "Fulani people are nomads and we travel and settle in many places but we are a close community who keep in touch with our traditions, and with each other. Music keeps this connection alive."

Henrik Schwarz

While Henrik Schwarz has yet to personally meet Baaba Maal, and before hearing the track was not largely familiar with his music, he was immediately taken by his track "Fulani Rock," and decided he simply had to do the remix. "I didn't know Baaba Maal's music before [remixing "Fulani Rock"] but when I heard the original of the track I knew this is going to be special," says Schwarz over email. "A lot of African music touches me and it's often more than just a groove, melody or a sound. It seems like a portal to a spiritual world where everything is connected."