Acclaimed Albums – Juju Music by King Sunny Adé

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 340/1000
Title: Juju Music
Artist: King Sunny Adé
Year: 1982

It’s weird to think that the 1980s was this cradle for ‘world beat’ and that it pretty much didn’t survive the decade other than as a minor influence. A lot of albums in this era, like Graceland, were massive and then you just don’t see these beats much outside of dance music and or albums where artists successful in other genres make a ‘roots album’ much like how Kylie inexplicably went country for an album.

JuJu Music is one of those albums that lifted the status of the world beat genre, a genre whose name is so colonialist but also the only one I know for it outside of Afrobeat. Given that the name of this album is JuJu Music and that it is specifically juju as originating from the Yoruba beats in Nigeria, I guess that’s the genre best to call this album.

This is one of a select few in this Top 1000 that is not in English and one of the even fewer where the artist is from Africa. Looking down the list, the only other one I can spot with any degree of confidence would be Youssou N’Dour – so it’s not exactly a well represented continent. 

JuJu Music made changes to suit a Western palette, but not too much that it lost what made it unique. Reading up, it looks like the major change was the splitting of songs into smaller sub-10 minute chunks. Even with that, you can see where the stitches were popped and the same song was split up. 

This isn’t really my genre, I think I like it more when there is a fusion of electronica with African music like with Welcome to Mali. However, it is really refreshing to hear something a bit different on this list. To be a stand-out like this shows what a splash JuJu Music must have made in 1982, something I don’t think we see a lot of anymore.

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