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According to Time Magazine, singer Angelique Kidjo is “Africa’s premier diva.” Kidjo started out singing traditional music in her native Benin, West Africa when she was a teenager. In 1983, she escaped the conflict-riddled Benin for Paris, where she studied music and eventually signed her first record deal with Island Records. Kidjo has since released 16 albums and won four World Music Grammys. Her latest album, Mother Nature, was released in June and features young African musicians like Sampa the Great and Burna Boy.
On today’s episode Bruce Headlam talks to Angelique Kidjo about the nature of African rhythm and why it can confuse Western musicians. She also explains how she lets her songs dictate what language her lyrics should be in, and how she managed to escape her home country despite being a recognizable national pop star.

 

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…