“Ye Ke Ye Ke” or “Yeke Yeke” was the first African single to sell over a million copies. Not an inconsiderable feat in a pre-internet age!
Mory Kante is a Guinean kora harp player and singer, who released “Yeke Yeke” in 1987 on the album Akwaba Beach.
The song is a frantic, euphoric afro-disco cruise, with a mixture of modern disco elements and Kante’s singing and harp playing.
The verses are more sparse but the vocals are still rich. It’s impressive just how much of the sound spectrum is filled by the combination of Kante and his backing singers.
The choruses are an explosion of sound, with the jubilant backing singers, the colourful brass, the African drums, all creating a brilliant and rapturous sound.
An interesting fact about Mory Kante is that he was literally destined to be a musician, being born into a family of traditional West African griots, which are kind of like medieval European bards. He learnt to play the kora in Mali as a child before returning to Guinea.
What a groove though!