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Mdou Moctar Releases ‘Oh France’ In Advance of Friday’s Funeral

On Friday (May 3rd), Mdou Moctar will release its much-anticipated new album, Funeral for Justice. Today, you can hear the record’s penultimate track, “Oh France“, a fiery indictment of French colonialism that stands among the group’s heaviest songs to date.

The band was recently profiled by the New York Times, who called Funeral for Justice “A cri de coeur of screaming guitars.” “Us guitar players in the West, we all have the same base vocabulary, the same handful of stereotypical licks,” Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett told the newspaper in an interview for the article. “But Mdou’s music, it’s almost free of that stuff. And because of that, it sounds more spontaneous. It sounds fresh. It’s amazing.”

Recorded at the close of two years spent touring the globe following the release of 2019 breakout Afrique VictimeFuneral For Justice captures the Nigerien quartet in ferocious form. The music is louder, faster, and more wild. The guitar solos are feedback-scorched and the lyrics are passionately political. Nothing is held back or toned down.

The songs on Funeral For Justice speak unflinchingly to the plight of Niger and of the Tuareg people. “This album is really different for me,” explains Moctar, the band’s singer, namesake, and indisputably iconic guitarist. “Now the problems of terrorist violence are more serious in Africa. When the US and Europe came here, they said they’re going to help us, but what we see is really different. They never help us to find a solution.”

In July 2023 – after Funeral For Justice had been completed – Niger’s democratically elected government was deposed in a military coup. The president was placed under house arrest and the nation plunged into a state of chaos and uncertainty. The French have withdrawn. The area continues to be threatened by terrorism. The band – then on tour in the US – was, for a time, unable to return to their families.

“I don’t support the coup,” explains Mdou, “but I never in my life liked France in my country. I don’t hate France or French people, I don’t hate American people either, but I don’t support their manipulative policies, what they do in Africa. In 2023 we want to be free, we need to smile, you understand?”

Mdou Moctar in its current iteration is first and foremost a band. Alongside Moctar, it consists of rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and American bassist and producer Mikey Coltun.