Ahmed Janka Nabay, the Sierra Leonian musician renowned for pioneering work in the electronic dance subgenre from his native country called “bubu music,” has died. Representatives from Luaka Bop confirmed the news. He was 54. A cause of death is currently unknown.
Nabay first found success with his music career in Sierra Leone, where he was one of the first artists to popularize the bubu music that originated in the Tenme regions of the country. At the end of the country’s civil war, Nabay made his way to the United States. He worked in kitchens and other odd jobs until 2007, when some of his older bubu releases were rediscovered in America.
Nabay relocated to Brooklyn and issued the first bubu music ever to be released commercially in the United States, the Bubu King EP, in 2010 via True Panther. Nabay, and his band the Bubu Gang, then released two full-lengths on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label: En Yay Sah (2012) and Build Music (2017).
In an interview with Bandcamp last year, Nabay said, “I hope that people will concentrate on my music. I want to hear somebody in London play bubu music, somebody in Germany play bubu music. Somebody in South Africa, Nigeria, something like that. That’s my hope…. This is my life, this is what I stand for. It’s for me and my entire country.”