Cedric Kouamé (African Diplomat)

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This interview was part of the Brusseleir Digger exhibition, held in Brussels during Listen Festival 2018. The exhibition showcased 10 Brussels based record collectors and was the brainchild of Koen Galle (concept & texts) and photographer Thomas Sweertvaegher.

Cedric was born 25 years ago in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Aged 17, he moved to Toulouse in France to study. Around that time, he bought his first record: ‘Honey’ by Erykah Badu. “I wanted to find a way to relax inside my tiny student apartment and thought a turntable might work. That’s when my vinyl addiction started.” He worked at the counter of a record store for a while before graduating and moving to Brussels. Today he studies ‘installation and performances’ at ERG while writing music and dj’ing under his ‘African Diplomat guise.

Every time Cedric travels to the Ivory Coast to visit family and friends, he brings a pile of records back. "They’re much more affordable there, as African music is getting quite sought after and expensive here in Europe.” He often comes across intriguing music on worn-out cassette tapes, still in heavy rotation on the African continent. "As an artist, I like how easy is it to distribute your music through tapes. As a digger, I love how you can unearth incredible gems on the medium.” 

It won't come as a surprise that Cedric's dad is also a vinyl fanatic. With a collection ranging from classical by Mozart or Beethoven to traditional African sounds, it was the music that Cedric grew up with. When his uncle passed away, he inherited his entire collection. “It was sad to say goodbye, but he lives on through the records he left me. Mainly salsa from the 70s and 80s, which has always been quite popular and influential in Western Africa due to its subversive lyrics. Some governments even sponsored musicians to learn the basics of the genre.”

10 records

  • Doh Albert: A New Jersey
  • Kouame Et Le Black Show: Ahoungnan
  • Bantama Kontire Nyonkro: Bantama Kontire Nyonkro
  • Vocal Band D'abidjan, Miezan Aka Nicolas: Vous Fait Danser Mamiechio
  • Hahize-Club: Hahize-Club (chante)
  • S. Leopold: Mam Zoure
  • Good Women Choir C.A.C. Ibadan & District: E Ba Mi Dupe
  • Folklore Agni: Vous Presente Son & Rythme D'Afrique
  • Groupe Akan 87: Mansu Susa Vol. 1
  • Onyame Nkrabea Nwomkro: CASSETTE

Translated to English by: Tristan Jong