Ahmed Janka Nabay was one of the first musicians to take 500-year-old bubu music outside of his homeland of Sierra Leone, where he'd been a rock star. Nabay was forced to flee the country in the midst of that country's civil war, and eventually wound up in Philadelphia in 2003. Nine years later, Nabay's band has released its first album, En Yay Sah, which blends bubu and electronic dance music.
The album showcases Nabay's urgent vocals in four languages, alongside ingratiating percussive rhythms. In this session of World Cafe, hear Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang discuss the making of the album and perform several tracks from En Yay Sah.