Taarab is among the oldest music genres in the coastal regions of East Africa. This blend of Asian, African, Indian and Arab music is as old as the first settlement of foreign sailors and traders in the region. Over time, it has evolved to heavily use the richly cultured Swahili language with the pomp and flair only the ‘coastarians’ can master. The captivating rhythm of Taarab songs and the almost storyteller like lyrics have made the genre quite famous across the nation. Taarab songs have spread to Uganda, Congo and various parts of Africa while going fully international and gathering an audience in the west, Europe and other parts of the world. Read down below to find more best Taarab songs 2018
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- 1 Top ten Taarab songs
- 1.1 1. Nalijua Jiji (Khadija Kopa Classic Band)
- 1.2 2. Nitadumu Nae (Mzee Yusuf with Zanzibar Stars Modern Taarab)
- 1.3 3. Bata (OffSide Trick Ft Mzee Yusuf)
- 1.4 4. Umejuaje Kama Si Umbea (Mwana Idi Shaban)
- 1.5 5. Paka Mapepe (Eas African Melody)
- 1.6 6. I Love You (East Africa Melody)
- 1.7 7. Dhamira Ya Mungu (Apostle Darlan Rukih)
- 1.8 8. Kidudu Mtu (Offside Trick Ft Baby J)
- 1.9 9. Uhimidiwe Bwana (Zahura M. Masudi)
- 1.10 10. Kupendwa Bahati Yangu (Mashauzi Modern Taarab)
- 1.11 Bonus: Talaka (Offside Trick)
Top ten Taarab songs
If you are just getting started with Taarab, this list of some of the top 10 Taarab songs is what you need to get started. We are going to feature famous Taarab songs from over the years and some of the most popular Taarab songs in the last one year.
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1. Nalijua Jiji (Khadija Kopa Classic Band)
The list starts off with this textbook Taarab song by Khadija Kopa Classic Band. This Taarab song has all the nuances of a thoroughbred Taarab song, from the slow mellow vocals, occasional dialog in the song to the to the highly expressional Zumari melodies. The result is that storyteller tune that addresses an important topic in the society while giving you a tune you can gently sway to as you reflect upon the song’s wisdom.
2. Nitadumu Nae (Mzee Yusuf with Zanzibar Stars Modern Taarab)
This song kicks in with the expressional but gentle drum action that sets the pace for that gentle waist gyration that is common to most of the best Taarab songs. The baseline beat is flanked by the trademark trumpet like pitches that set the stage for the shrill female voice hook before Mzee Yusuf lays down the stanzas in a rather calming tenor voice. You can’t help but be transported emotionally, sharing in his praise for his soul mate who is willing to live with forever.
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3. Bata (OffSide Trick Ft Mzee Yusuf)
Bata by OffSide Trick is one of the new Taarab songs that show a slight deviation from the Taarab old songs and try a new playful approach that is appealing to the modern audience without dropping its roots completely. This song is full of crosstalk and hidden messages that you can only understand if you look deeper. If all you want is to enjoy the funky modern Taarab songs beat, you won’t really have to worry about this. Form a circle and dance to your heart’s content.
4. Umejuaje Kama Si Umbea (Mwana Idi Shaban)
Everyone society has a thing against gossips and rumormongers. This song by Mwana Idi Shaban gives us a glimpse at this side of the Swahili community by addressing the issue of gossips in the community. Despite its heavy message, this song is still captivating and you will find yourself transported into a calming but informative world by the soothing rhythmic bit and the controlled shrill vocals of the lead singer.
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5. Paka Mapepe (Eas African Melody)
Paka Mapepe is another Taarab classic that always has a place in any list of Taarab best songs worth its salt. Even though the song has been around for a while, it is still a classic thanks to the complex interweave of different musical instruments complemented by one of the most iconic voices in recent Taarab history. One of the most notable thing about this song is how it has long sections of nothing but instrumentals giving you a chance to just lay back and marvel at how good the music was composed.
6. I Love You (East Africa Melody)
We are used to Swahili Taarab love songs since that is the natural trademark of this genre. East Africa Melody decided to throw a different cord by combining English with Swahili in this romantic piece. Even though big chunks of the song are still in Swahili, you can not help but marvel at how the band managed to add intonation and drag to the English words so as to fit them into the slow Taarab style.
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7. Dhamira Ya Mungu (Apostle Darlan Rukih)
Yes. We know there are many love and contemporary Taarab songs but very little is known of the Taarab gospel songs. There is a wide range of old and modern Taarab songs that fit into this category. Dhamira Ya Mungu is a great example that has all the nuances of a Taarab jam, from the slow rhythm, the trademark vocals and complex mesh of different musical instruments.
8. Kidudu Mtu (Offside Trick Ft Baby J)
Kidudu Mtu is another Taarab song that focuses on rumormongers and tells a story on how the society hates such people. We get the expect easy to sway to Taarab beat and the awe inspiring choice of words that let the artists tell their story without breaking rhythm. This is one of the many Bongo Taarab songs addressing issues affecting the society and how people react to them.
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9. Uhimidiwe Bwana (Zahura M. Masudi)
This is another gospel Taarab song that is proof the calming Taarab song can also have a place in the church. The song still gets to play around with well-chosen Swahili words to match the rhythm baseline set by steady cymbals tap that blends in perfectly with the lead artists almost auto tuned voice.
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10. Kupendwa Bahati Yangu (Mashauzi Modern Taarab)
This fast song is just an example of what the best Taara songs 2018, be it Kenyan, Zanzibar or Tanzania Taarab songs can take to. This is a slight deviation from the slow rhythm in most old and traditional Taarab songs. There is still the iconic complex instrumentals, the controlled shrill of female voices in the hook and chorus and the subtle drum hits here and there.
Bonus: Talaka (Offside Trick)
This danceable song is surprisingly joyful even though it is talking about a divorce. This is one of those songs that bring out the dancer in coast ladies. Think of it as the riddim or club bangers of the coast. You will definitely stand and dance – if you know how to move your waist (kunegua kiuon as they call it in Swahili)
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Taarab music is one of the most resilient genres to ever come from the coast. The songs have a classic stature that makes them comparable to golden rhumba, lingala and zilizopendwa tunes that are appealing to many audiences regardless of their age bracket.
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