Africa (Toto song)
|Single by Toto|
|from the album Toto IV|
|B-side||"Good for You"
"We Made It" (Europe)
"Africa" (live) (1990 re-release)
|Writer(s)||David Paich, Jeff Porcaro|
|Toto singles chronology|
"Africa" is a rock song by American rock band Toto, and one of the band's most recognizable songs. It was included on their Triple Platinum 1982 album Toto IV, and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983 as well as #3 on the UK Singles Chart the same month. The song was written by the band's keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro. It was aided by a popular MTV music video.
After a 2009 Perpetuum Jazzile group performance video of the song's a capella cover received more than 15 million YouTube views, the original song re-entered the New Zealand singles chart after 30 years, when it peaked at number eight in 1982, to reach a new peak of number five on 17 May 2013. It also reached number one on the New Zealand iTunes digital chart.
The initial idea for the song came from David Paich. Jeff Porcaro explains the idea behind the song: "... a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past."
David Paich said: "At the beginning of the '80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about if I was there and what I'd do."
Musically the song took quite some time to assemble, as Paich and Porcaro explain:
"On 'Africa' you hear a combination of marimba with GS 1. The kalimba is all done with the GS 1; it's six tracks of GS 1 playing different rhythms. I wrote the song on CS-80, so that plays the main part of the entire tune."
Jeff Porcaro reminisces about how the song's percussion tracks took shape:
"I was about 11 when the New York's World Fair took place, and I went to the African pavilion with my family. I saw the real thing; I don't know what tribe, but there were these drummers playing, and my mind was blown... It was the first time I witnessed someone playing one beat and not straying from it, like a religious experience, where it gets loud, and everyone goes into a trance. I have always dug those kind of orchestras, whether it be a band or all drummers... and I said, 'Gee, someday there's going to be a little drum orchestra where everybody plays one thing, and you don't stray from it. You do it until you drop. You're banished from that land if you move from that one part.'
"So when we were doing 'Africa', I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove.... The backbeat is on 3, so it's a half-time feel, and it's 16th notes on the hi-hat. Lenny started playing a conga pattern. We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for 'Africa' in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern. We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape. We made another mark four bars before those two bars. Lenny and I went back out; I had a cowbell, Lenny had a shaker. They gave us two new tracks, and they gave us the cue when they saw the first mark go by. Lenny and I started playing to get into the groove, so by the time the that fifth bar came – which was the first bar of the two bars we marked as the cool bars we liked – we were locked, and we overdubbed shaker and cowbell.
"So there was bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, two congas, a cowbell, and a shaker. We went back in, cut the tape, and made a one-bar tape loop... Maybe it would have taken two minutes to program that in the Linn, and it took about half an hour to do this. But a Linn machine doesn't feel like that! So we had an analog groove. We took that tape, transferred it onto another 24-track for six minutes, and David Paich and I went out in the studio. The song started, and I was sitting there with a complete drumset, and Paich was playing. When he got to the fill before the chorus, I started playing the chorus, and when the verse or the intro came back, I stopped playing. Then we had piano and drums on tape. You have to realize that there are some odd bars in 'Africa', so when you have a one-bar loop going, all of a sudden, sometimes Lenny's figure would turn around. So Lenny went in and played the song again, but this time he changed his pattern a little for the turnarounds, for the fills, for the bridge, for the solo. We kept the original part and the new one. Then we had to do bongos, jingle sticks, and big shakers doing quarter notes, maybe stacking two tracks of sleigh bells, two tracks of big jingle sticks, and two tracks of tambourine all down to one track. I was trying to get the sounds I would hear Milt Holland or Emil Richards have, or the sounds I would hear in a 'National Geographic' special, or the ones I heard at the New York World's Fair."
The music video was directed by Steve Barron. The story is of a researcher in a library (portrayed by band member David Paich), looking for clues to a book called Africa. Many scenes include the band performing atop a stack of hardcover books. This video also features Mike Porcaro on bass, replacing David Hungate who had already left the band before the video was made.
- Steve Lukather – backing vocals, guitar
- Bobby Kimball – backing vocal
- David Hungate – bass
- Jeff Porcaro – drums, percussion
- Steve Porcaro – synthesizer
- David Paich – lead and backing vocals, piano, synthesizer
- Jim Horn – recorders
- Lenny Castro – congas, percussion
- Joe Porcaro – marimbas, percussion
- Timothy B. Schmitt – backing vocal
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
Covers and samplings
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2013)|
The song has been covered extensively and segments of the song sampled in recordings by many artists.
- 1983: The Shadows, an instrumental version on their album XXV
- 2008: Chris de Burgh on his covers album Footsteps
- 2008: Lowry in the Engine Room Recordings' compilation album Guilt by Association Vol. 2
- 2009: Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra on their 2009 release, The Dreaming EP
- 2009: Perpetuum Jazzile, a cappella group from Slovenia, on their album Africa
- 2011: Relient K, an alternative Christian rock band, on their covers album Is for Karaoke
- 2012: Quietdrive, an alternative rock band, on their covers album "Your Record/Our Spin"
- 2012: Progressive metal band Chaos Divine released a cover version as a single with two original b-sides.
Samplings and adaptations
- 1999: American rapper Nas sampled "Africa" in his song "New World" from his album Nastradamus
- 2002: American rapper Xzibit sampled it in the song "Heart of Man" from his album Man vs. Machine
- 2007: American Pop singer JoJo sampled it in her song "Anything", which served as the third single from her 2006 sophomore studio album, The High Road
- 2008: Canadian R&B singer Karl Wolf featuring Canadian rapper Culture sampled the chorus in the song with the same name on Karl Wolf's album Bite the Bullet. Also in 2008, Karl Wolf made a limited release remake retitled "The Song For Peace" with completely new lyrics and dedicated to Lebanon. In 2009, he recorded a new version "Africa '09" on his album Nightlife as a bonus track and a third solo version (without Culture) on the special release "Africa (World Cup Edition)" for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a soccer-themed separate music video
- 2009: MC Joe and The Vanillas released "Africa (The Dance Remix)" based mainly on the version by Karl Wolf. It charted in Canadian Hot 100 based on digital sales
- 2009: American rapper Ja Rule sampled "Africa" in his song "Reign".
- 2009: American a cappella group Straight No Chaser sampled "Africa" in their cover of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", and later released a cover version of it as a bonus track on their album, Holiday Sprits
- 2010: American rapper Wiz Khalifa featuring Curren$y sampled "Africa" in his song "Huey Newton"
- 2011: American Pop/R&B singer Jason Derülo sampled "Africa" in his song "Fight for You" from his 2011 sophomore studio album, Future History
- 2011: British Stevie Hoang, the songwriter of the Jason Derülo hit "Fight for You" also released the song featuring vocals of Iyaz. The song appears in Stevie Hoang 2011 album Unsigned
- Italian-American trance DJ and producer Louie DeVito sampled "Africa" in his song, "2 Take Me Away".
References in other media
- In the Family Guy episode "Internal Affairs", Bonnie and Joe Swanson's song is Africa by Toto as it is played in the strip club where they met. The song was arranged to be played in the same strip club in order to get them back together later in the episode.
- In the Cleveland Show episode "How Cleveland Got His Groove Back", the song is played as the soundtrack to the beach montage in Hawaii, which Rallo believes to be Africa.
- The song was sung by main character, J.D., in the Scrubs episode, "My Way Home".
- The song was sung by Donald Glover, Danny Pudi and Betty White in the Community episode "Anthropology 101".
- The song was featured in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on the in-game radio station Emotion 98.3.
- The song was sung as a parody by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[when?]
- The song was sung in Chuck (TV Series) at the end of season 2, episode 14.
- Africa (Rose Laurens song) (another international hit also in 1983)
- Africa (Karl Wolf song)
- Fight for You
- List of RPM number-one singles of 1983
- List of Hot 100 number-one singles of 1983 (U.S.)
- Hewitt, Greg (October 21, 2013). "Oil Ship Crew NAILS Toto’s “Africa”". Fresh 102.5 (CBS Local Media).
- Glasba za dobro jutro: Perpetuum Jazzile, Africa. Delo, 7 August 2013, Accessed on 17 September 2013.
- "Official TOTO Website – Encyclopedia". www.toto99.com. 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "Official TOTO Website – Releases". www.toto99.com. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Keyboard, 09/1995
- Modern Drummer (November 1988)
- "David Paich to perform at United Nations M.D.G. Awards". Totonetwork.com. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "Toto – "Africa"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Steffen Hung. "Toto – Africa". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". everyHit.com. 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Africa". Music Canada.
- "New Zealand single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.
- "British single certifications – Toto – Africa". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Africa in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
- "American single certifications – Toto – Africa". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- Billboard Chart Listing – Allmusic.com
- Mix Magazine's "Classic Tracks" article
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics