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Mdou Moctar

  • 🇳🇪 Agadez
  • Years Active
    2008 - Now
Niger-born Mdou Moctar earned international attention for his unique blend of traditional Tuareg music with elements of rock, blues and psychedelia.

Moctar - born Mahamadou Souleymane - was inspired to play guitar by Abdallah Oumbadougou, a principal architect of the assouf, a.k.a. desert blues, the politicized, guitar-powered music of North Africa's Kel Tamasheq people. Moctar recorded his debut release, 2008's Anar, in Sokoto, Nigeria, augmenting his sound with Auto-Tuned vocals and drum machines - effects inspired by Nigerian Hausa music. The track "Tahoultine" became an enormous hit, shared from villager to villager via Bluetooth and mobile phone SIM cards, and eventually crossed paths with Christopher Kirkley, who included it on Music from Saharan Cellphones, released on the Portland, Ore.-based blogger's Sahel Sounds imprint.

Kirkley eventually traveled to Niger to meet Moctar in person, and in 2013, Sahel Sounds issued the live album Afelan, which Moctar recorded live in Tchintabaraden, followed by Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, an unofficial remake of Prince's 1984 feature-film debut Purple Rain starring Moctar in the lead role and spotlighting his original music. Sousoume Tamachek, a solo acoustic effort released in 2017, preceded Moctor's first full-band studio album, 2019's Ilana (The Creator). Moctar and his band recorded 2021's Afrique Victime across a range of locations and contexts, including hotel rooms and friends' homes; the album features "Tala Tannam," one of several songs penned for the guitarist's wife, Layla.

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