Cool-Catché in West Africa

Cool-Catché has created tremendous buzz over the past few years ago. The band Toofan introduced the dance which gave a new identity to Togolese music.Today, Cool-Catché is danced by several artists in Africa inspiring other genres like Gwetta Congolo or Gwetta Agbadja.

(Photo):Screen capture of Toofan video clip « Soldats du Cool-Catché »
(Photo):Screen capture of Toofan video clip « Soldats du Cool-Catché »

It all started in Gbadago, a poor district of the Togolese capital. The most popular band in Togo, composed of two childhood friends, Fatowou Kossivi (MasterJust), known as "ambianceur" (crowd-warmer) and Blaise Mensah (Barabas), called " Le Magicien” (the magician), toaster and rapper of the band, launched a new dance called Cool-Catché. The band started with three members until Allone left for Europe to pursue his solo career.

The origins of Cool-Catché

The two young men gradually gave a new identity to Togolese and west-African music with their new concept: a dance with movements of the neck accompanied by rhythmic dance steps.

According to the band Toofan, this trend came from the Gbadago district where they grew up. Barabas explained: “The inspiration came from the street. Some young Togolese often ‘carry their house on their back’. They sometimes visit us carrying their backpack containing all their belongings: toothbrush, towel, clothes, bread etc.

Despite their concerns, they live happily. We have indeed met young people like that, who came to spend time with us in the studio with their backpack. One day, one of them forgot his bag. We tried to open it and discovered that it contained all he had. This is how Cool-Catché was born."

Cool-Catché, inspired by the daily life of young resourceful people of Lomé, won over fans through several singles released on the market. When asked about the meaning of the dance, the leader of the band, MasterJust, explained: " Cool-Catché is someone who manages to keep smiling through it all. Cool-Catché simply means ‘it’s cool’ in the district. We move our bodies to shake off all problems and keep smiling and enjoy life.”

After the success of Cool-Catché, Toofan launched the Gwetta in 2014, which was a success.

For Toofan, trends have a life expectancy. Thus, they plan to launch another dance by 2016. "Cool-Catché is very popular in the sub-region of west Africa and elsewhere” adds Master Just. “In 2005, we created the Ogbragada, a mix of rap and ambiance music.

Later we created the Cool-Catché followed by the Gwetta. Few people know that we created the Coinè Coinè and other dances not yet on the market. After celebrating our 10th year in showbiz, we are going to announce a new very powerful rhythm which will be released in 2016."

To promote this dance, the cultural promoters even organized a national competition for best dancer of Cool-Catché in 2013. Togolese artists have welcomed the new genre which is now played in bars, nightclubs, on radio and TV channels.

“It is thanks to Cool-Catché that the Togolese music was able to conquer the countries of the sub-region. Togolese people can be proud; Cool-Catché is our musical flag like the Coupé-Décalé in Ivory Coast, the Tonhonin Benin or the Skelewu in Nigeria. I embraced this trend even though I am a gospel artist,” confided the Togolese artist, Papson Moutité.

A global success

Cool-Catché is already popular in the sub-region of West Africa. Several African artists including Chidinma, Detox, Dj Arafat, Eddie Kenzo, Charlie Watta, Black Kent, and Jessy Matador have come forward to work collaboratively on the Togolese band’s projects.

The euphoria conquered almost all the capitals of western Africa (Cotonou, Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Accra, and Lagos) and Toofan received several international awards following their achievement.

The band was awarded ‘Best artist from West Africa’ at the Kundé d’Or in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in December 2010. A few years later, the band won the trophy of the "Best Song of WestAfrica” during the “Online African Music Awards“ in New York.

In 2010, the band was nominated at the prestigious Kora Awards for "Most Promising African group”. Toofan was also awarded “Best Francophone Artist” in2014 at the MTV Africa Music Awards.

They eventually got noticed by the CAN 2015 (African Cup of Nations) and were commissioned for composing and arranging “HolaHola", the official song of the continental sports event.

“When we talk about soccer, it’s all about the ambiance. Soccer represents happy moments for us. Africa feels united and speaks the same language,” Master Just said on Africa 24.

The band’s next goal is conquering the European music market. It aims at reaching the African Diaspora which welcomed its numerous performances outside the African continent. Already Toofan has exported their talents to other parts of the world. From 2010 to 2015, they toured Belgium, Germany, Mexico and the United States.

“For me, Cool-Catchéis a physical performance. A vital rhythm to the music industry in Togo and almost everywhere in western Africa," explained Eros Noare, director of Ghotta international production audio-visual label.

Cool-Catché, it appears, has made a lasting impression on an entire generation.


Links:
Toofan’s official website
Eros Noare biography

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