Mdou Moctar

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Mdou Moctar
Mdou Moctar Milhões de Festa 2014.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMahamadou Souleymane
Also known asM.dou Mouktar
GenresSaharan rock, Rock, Blues rock
Instrumentsguitar, vocals, synth
Years active2008–present
LabelsSahel Sounds, Matador Records

Mahamadou Souleymane,[1][2] known professionally as Mdou Moctar (also M.dou Mouktar; born c. 1986[3][1] or 1984[1]) is a Tuareg songwriter and musician based in Agadez, Niger, and is one of the first musicians to perform modern electronic adaptations of Tuareg guitar music.[4][5] He first became famous through a trading network of cellphones and memory cards in West Africa.[6]

Mdou Moctar is a popular wedding performer and sings about Islam, education, love, and peace in Tamasheq.[7][8][9] He plays a left-handed Fender Stratocaster guitar in a takamba and assouf style.[7][10]


Mdou Moctar was born in the Nigerien village of Tchintabaraden, and then grew up in Arlit, a mining town.[11] After listening to artists such as Abdallah Oumbadougou, he wanted to play the guitar as well, but his family disapproved of electric music,[12] so he had to build his own guitar, using bicycle cables for strings.[11]

His first album, Anar, was recorded in Sokoto, Nigeria, in 2008 and prominently featured "spaced-out" autotuned vocals and the influence of Hausa music.[6][7][13][14] The album was not officially released at the time but the songs became hugely popular across the Sahel when they went viral through cell-phone music trading networks.[6][15][16] They reached a global audience when Sahel Sounds released his music on the Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1 compilation.[11] Two songs were covered with English homophone lyrics by Brainstorm, an American band from Portland, Oregon.[17] Anar was released on vinyl in 2014 with a high price, due to "predatory business practices" from Sixt on Moctar's first European tour.[18]

His next album, Afelan, was recorded live in Tchintabaraden and features "rusty-edged jams and sun-weathered ballads".[19] The title track is named after a celebrated historical/folkloric hero of the Azawough of Western Niger.[20] It contains a cover of "Chet Boghassa" by Tinariwen.

On first realizing there was interest in his music - and a growing audience for it - outside of the Saharan region, Moctar said in late 2014: "“I first met (Christopher Kirkley of Sahel Sounds) on the mobile phone as he had called me ... It was a weird conversation, as I thought my cousin was pulling a joke on me so I hung up. This American guy calling me, saying he wanted to work with me for my music, it just couldn’t be real. He called me again and we talked. He came to visit me in my village and also sent me a lefthanded guitar, which is very hard to find in Niger. This guitar has crossed several African countries to arrive in my hands, I have been playing it ever since!"[21]

Mdou Moctar released his fifth studio album Ilana (The Creator) in 2019, it was his first studio album recorded with a full band.[22] NPR's Bob Boilen named the album "perhaps the most fiery psych-rock of the 21st century"[23] while Happy Mag placed it at no.13 on their list of "The 25 best psychedelic rock albums of the 2010s", labelling it "serious music for a serious cause."[24]

Moctar's sixth album, Afrique Victime, was released via Matador Records on May 21 2021.[25]


Moctar appeared in the short film I Sing the Desert Electric.[26]

He also has the starring role in the 2015 film Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, which translates as "Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red In It".[27][28] It tells the story of a musician from Agadez, who struggles with competing artists, a difficult home life, romantic problems and his own internal strife; whilst riding around the desert on a purple motorcycle.[29][30] The film is an homage to Purple Rain and The Harder They Come; and is influenced by Moi, un noir, Jean Rouch, Italian neorealism and poverty row films.[5] It is the world's first feature film in a Tuareg language, specifically a mixture of dialects from Aïr and Azawagh.[31][32] The soundtrack features music performed on set and at L'Embobineuse.[33]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Anar (2008)
  • Afelan (2013)
  • Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai OST (2015)
  • Sousoume Tamachek (2017)
  • Ilana: The Creator (2019)
  • Afrique Victime (2021)

Live albums[edit]

  • Blue Stage Sessions (2019)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • Tahoultine (2011)[34]
  • Anar / Vanessa (2012) (split with Brainstorm)[35]
  • Ibitlan EP (2020)

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1 (2010)[36]
  • Music For Saharan Cellphones: The International Reworks (2011)[37]
  • The Mdou Moctar Covers (2012) (split with Brainstorm)[38]
  • Pop Music From Republique Du Niger (2012)
  • Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2 (2013)[39]
  • Ronald Paris / Mdou Moctar (2014) (split cassette with Porches)[40][41]
  • Rough Trade Shops Africa 13 (2014)
  • Mind The Gap #110 (2014)
  • Below The Radar 10 (2014)


  1. ^ a b c "Afropop Worldwide | Mdou Moctar Talks Tuareg Film and Music". Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Mdou Moctar". Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  3. ^ "MUZIEK: Mdou Moctar – Toeareg-rockheld voor de jonge generatie". Gonzo Circus (123). 4 September 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Anar". Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b Kirkley, Christopher. "Akounak: The feature film of a Tuareg guitarist in Agadez". Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "tahoultine, chopped and skyped". Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Allan, Jennifer Lucy (October 2014). "Prince of the Desert". The Wire (368): 10.
  8. ^ "Mdou Moctar, musicien touareg du Niger". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Mdou Moctar, Desert Warrior". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  10. ^ "Mdou Moctar/official". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Deville, Christ (March 5, 2019). "Artist To Watch: Mdou Moctar". Stereogum. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  12. ^ Schardl, Kati (September 5, 2019). "Mdou Moctar's scorching riffs set to heat up shred-fest at The Wilbury". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  13. ^ "MDOU MOCTAR". Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  14. ^ Doran, John (30 December 2014). "The playlist: the best Middle Eastern and North African music of 2014, with Noura Mint Seymali". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Audio: Mdou Moctar & Brainstorm 'Anar/Vanessa'". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Mdou Moctar – 'Anar' (Official Video)". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  17. ^ "of love and eyebrows". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  18. ^ Kirkley, Chris. "here be dragons". Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  19. ^ Holslin, Peter. "Master of Saharan Guitar: Mdou Moctar "Anar"". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  20. ^ "sahel vinyl". Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  21. ^ "Knik". Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  23. ^ "Mdou Moctar's 'Ilana' Is Perhaps The Most Fiery Psych-Rock Of The 21st Century". Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  24. ^ "The 25 best psychedelic rock albums of the 2010s". Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  25. ^ "Mdou Moctar Announces New Album Afrique Victime, Released Music Video For Single Tala Tannam". Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  26. ^ "i sing the desert electric (download)". Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  27. ^ "Mdou Moctar - Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai TEASER". YouTube. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Mdou Moctar protagoniza un nuevo filme documental: "Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It"". Conceptaradio,net. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  29. ^ "Artickle". Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  30. ^ Singer, Matthew (14 January 2014). "Kickstart My Heart: Portland Blogger To Direct First-Ever Tuareg-Language Film in West Africa". Willamette Week. Portland, Oregon. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Mdou Moctar - Akonak (TEASER TRAILER 2)". YouTube. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  32. ^ Kirkley, Christopher. "rain the color of blue with a little red in it". Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  33. ^ Kirkley, Christopher. "Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai OST". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  34. ^ "Tahoultine". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  35. ^ "Mdou Moctar/Brainstorm on Sahel Sounds Records". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  36. ^ "Music For Saharan Cellphones Vol.2 crowdfunding LP release". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  37. ^ "Music For Saharan Cellphones". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  38. ^ "The Mdou Moctar Covers". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  39. ^ "Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  40. ^ Cohen, Ian. "Porches". Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  41. ^ "Porches./Mdou Moctar Split". Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.

External links[edit]