Packing over 300 pre-recorded performances into four days, Nyege Nyege 2020 was a multidimensional feast of audiovisual elements and shapeshifting club heaters from talents around the African continent, Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
Their strategic focus on Pan-Africanism, combined with a broad definition of electronic music that encompasses hip-hop, noise-saturated-metal and experimental, as well as four-on-the-floor, has made Nyege Nyege’s programming some of the most consistently compelling in today’s festival landscape. A mini-documentary by Mumbai-based agency Wavlngth, part of the festival’s web offerings, delved deeper into those points as it shone a light on Nyege Nyege’s radical spirit.
There were Afrocentric collectives representing Black diasporas such as Barcelona’s Jokkoo and Montreal’s Moonshine as well as Brussels-based experimental club night Leaving Living Dakota and Johannesburg queer collective and DJ incubator program Pussy Party, all of whom discharged serious dance floor pressure. Hybrid sounds born from traditional music, street styles and digital distortions were also pervasive—Moroccan ensemble Mr ID & Mehdi Nassouli, for instance, paired Amazigh and Gnawa music with syncopated beats. In addition to these high energy offerings were special showcases including a performance of Mauritanian wedding music and a presentation on the making of a Gabonese harp.
Dozens of acts impressed during the 96-hour festival, but these ten stood out the most.