Kalita Records digs into Ghana’s 1980s and early 90s to unveil a collection of musicians that took the country’s famous highlife adding synths and drum machines for a rare style of ‘Burger Highlife’.
The 1970s witnessed an increased Western airtime and physical presence in Ghana introducing funk, soul and disco sounds to the region. By the turn of the decade the country was also enduring economic turmoil, with rising poverty, military dictatorships and long periods of enforced curfews (amongst other factors) making it impossible for artists to survive. As a result, many Ghanaian artists with a broader outlook began to pursue their careers in the West, moving to both Europe and America in search of stardom. It was here that Ghanaian musicians developed a digitised version of highlife music which fully embraced Western contemporary music styles and newly introduced technology such as the DX7 synthesizer and various drum machines.
Kalita now unveils a compilation focussing on this phenomenon of ‘Burger Highlife’, a crossover of West African melodies with synthesizers, disco and boogie that took over Ghanaian airwaves during the 1980’s and beyond. The double LP highlights key recordings from genre-defining artists including Thomas Frempong and George Darko, as well as more obscure sought-after tracks by elusive bands such as Aban and Uncle Joe’s Afri-Beat, Kalita. The project also comes accompanied by a 16-page booklet featuring extensive interview-based liner notes on each artist and never-before-seen archival photos.
Borga Revolution is an effort to tell the story of this Ghanaian dance music that remains so optimistic under the pressure of political turmoil. Including both prominent and lesser-known musicians’ accounts and documentary evidence, the new album provides a new perspective of this shift to the digital age.
Borga Revolution! out June 17th via Kalita Records.