Ivorian music has really for the first time taken over dancefloors all over Africa and some of Europe as well. At the same time Ivory Coast has been going through protracted political and military crisis, with debilitating social and economic effects.
Coupé-décalé appears around 2002 in a trendy African nightclub in the northeast of Paris. It was created by a couple of young immigrants from Ivory Coast, like Molaré, Bobo Sangui, Lino Versace, Solo Béton, Douk Saga.
Couper in Ivorian slang means to cheat somebody, décaler is to run away. The third word which comes all the time in the first songs of coupé-décalé – we are here to work. And travailler means distribute the money, throw the money away, share it with other people on the dance floor.
The beginning of this music was quite improvisational, it was a public show of improvisation, of dance movements but also of a new kind of music. The influence is quite Congolese at the beginning, but there is also an influence of zouglou music and earlier Ivorian music.
Only some months later after the first songs in Paris the same people went back to Abidjan’s nightclubs Ivory Coast and made themselves known by distributing money. It was also the beginning of the Ivorian crisis when civil war split the country between rebel-held north and government-controlled south, so there was quite a need for some distraction from images of war. Although the fighting has stopped under a 2003 peace deal, Ivory Coast is still tense and divided.
At the very beginning there was no political message at all. First of all coupé-décalé is music to dance to, to forget what is surrounding you. There are hundreds of different coupé-decalé artists and songs and dance moves and almost every song proclaims to be a substyle.
Coupé-Décalé is a quest for new values, there is a general quest that you can find in many songs for a common future like “On est ou là?” Where are we actually? What’s happening? Where are we? Coupé-décalé grabs things from all sides and current events, like 2006 it was Guantanamo: every time somebody shouts “guantanamo” you have to put your hands together like if they were tied.
The music shot to success during the political crisis that followed the attempted coup d’etat in 2002; the subsequent night-time curfew inadvertently spawned a musical movement for those locked inside the clubs until sunrise. Everything is possible in this world of coupé-décalé, and it’s possible in a very short time.
here you see the master himself: DOUK SAGA!!!!!!