Accepted paper:

The Role of Coupe-Decale Music in the Ivorian Crisis: a new Relationship with France


Anne Schumann (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

In Côte d’Ivoire, popular music genres such as reggae and zouglou have played a critical role at significant turning points in recent Ivorian history and, especially since political liberalization in 1990, have served as a domain for articulation of ideas about politics, corruption, citizenship, national history and identity, as well as being a platform for social criticism. In recent years, coupé-décalé, a new, ostensibly apolitical, musical genre has emerged, and due to its popularity, it has been giving solid competition to zouglou as most celebrated Ivorian music. This music has been the object of debates in Côte d’Ivoire and abroad, due to its alleged links with transnational cybercrime, and has been criticised for its lack of lyrical content. However, coupé-décalé is effectively also engaging with a socio-political project, as its imagery envisions a new postcolonial relationship with France. Hereby, as this paper aims to show, it provokes a break with the tradition of social criticism represented by zouglou, where zouglou artists, presenting themselves as the “voice of the voiceless” depict themselves as social underdogs, at the receiving end of an unjust and unequal postcolonial relationship. Born in the nightclubs of the Ivorian diaspora in London and Paris, coupé-décalé is a transnational musical style par excellence. Coupé-décalé as a genre celebrates the exploits of young Ivorians who have made a fortune in France. Rather than suffering from the injustice of the postcolonial relationship, in coupé-décalé, Ivorians celebrate themselves for mastering both environments.

panel A6
Documentary film, Music and Volunteering