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Por Por: Honk Horn Music of Ghana

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Album Review

"Por Por" (rhymes with caw caw) is a style of Ghanaian music that originated with trotro (van-taxi) drivers in the La region of Ghana's capital city, Accra; it's an off-the-cuff kind of music, played on squeezebulb horns, hubcaps, and pretty much anything else found in the back of a standard trotro. Like most things Ghanaian, por por is vibrant in the extreme, built on wild, atonal vocals, found instruments, and ancient musical traditions (in this case, asonko and mmenson). It came about, more or less, due to the general decrepitude of the average trotro; the vehicles broke down regularly, and the waylaid travelers would play por por to keep their spirits up while the driver made repairs. (Given the raucous nature of the music, it also had the effect of driving away dangerous animals.) Eventually, por por insinuated itself into the lives of trotro drivers throughout Accra; it became standard fare at drivers' funerals, and grew so popular that in colonial times the British officials actually tried to ban it. It's surprising then, given its long, colorful history, that the first por por recordings didn't emerge until almost 50 years after Ghana declared independence. Performed by the La Drivers Union Por Por Group, Por Por: Honk Horn Music of Ghana provides a brief yet vivid glimpse of por por and Ghanaian life. Songs here range from joyous, large group call-and-response to spoken word to rap; they praise trotro drivers for their skill ("Trotro Drivers, We Love You So"), rehash traditional Ghanaian stories ("Kpanlogo Por Por Medley"), and pay homage to legendary drivers ("M.V. Labadi"). According to Steven Feld, the musicologist who compiled this album, the tracks were each recorded in one take. "The very lively and spirited excitement of the process is palpable," he says in the liner notes, "the grooves immediately inviting listeners to start dancing and pumping up tires." While most listeners probably won't be spurred to fix a flat after listening to this album, they'll probably be hard-pressed to refrain from tapping their toes. This is addictive, joyful noise.


Formed: 1968 in Accra, Ghana

Genre: World

Years Active:

Comprised of a group of Ghanaian minibus (trotro) drivers from the La region of Accra, Ghana, the La Drivers Union Por Por Group officially formed in 1968. Por Por, for the uninitiated, is the traditional honk horn music played by trotro drivers throughout Ghana, a genre that wasn't very well known outside of Ghana until the early 2000s when musician Nii Noi Nortey managed to grab the attention of musicologist Steven Feld. Initially introduced to the La Drivers Union by his friend Nii Yemo Nunu in...
Full Bio
Por Por: Honk Horn Music of Ghana, The La Drivers Union Por Por Group
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: World, Music, Africa
  • Released: Feb 20, 2007

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