Standout Track: No. 9, “Jondji,” a speedy, perky Afro-pop ass-shaker that melds the chanted and sung vocals and rhythm guitar of Elikeh frontman Serge “Massama” Dogo with his band’s blend of Congolese Rumba axework and funky bass, drums, and horns. “We tried to keep it just like the way we play it live,” says Dogo.
Musical Motivation: “Jondji,” Dogo says, is “a combination of many styles.” The lineup, which includes African and American members, put “some Afrobeat in it,” Dogo says. “We also added some guitar style from the Congo’s soukous that can be felt after the first bridge and at the end of the song.” Dogo sings in Mina, a Togolese tongue spoken mainly in the capital of Lome, as well as in French. But lyrically, “Jondji” is a departure for Elikah, whose lyrics largely skew political: “Baby, don’t be mad at me. Come dance,” Dogo sings, suggesting a sort of domestic ceasefire. “The song is talking about a man that is telling his girl to forget about the troubles in the relationship and to come party,” he says.
Suburb Enthral: The song was born, Dogo explains, when the band ran out of material at a gig. “I started doing the funky rhythm guitar,” he says. “I asked the drumer to go funky, too. But he did not hear what I was saying. He started playing but was looking at me like, ‘Is this OK?’ And I said that is exactly the beat I want.” The crowd reacted positively, and luckily, the band had recorded the set. When Dogo later listened to the recording, he realized the song had legs and decided the band would play it on the album. “We used to call the song ‘Bethesda Jam’ because the gig was in Bethesda,” he says.
Elikeh performs May 27 at 8 p.m. at Rock & Roll Hotel. $10.