March 13, 2020
Growing up in the aftermath of civil war, his father a controversial former general, the producer has channelled his shocking experiences into a vital electronic album
From bombs to beats: how Nazar summed up the sound of Angola
The perkiest song on Guerrilla, the debut album by the Angolan artist Nazar, is an ode to deadly military technology. “This is a restricted weapon,” we hear on FIM-92 Stinger, a shaky kuduro rhythm brightened by synth marimba. In the murky world of Guerrilla – part war diary, part family memoir – acquiring an anti-aircraft missile is cause for celebration. “That thing symbolised a good time for people in the rebellion,” Nazar explains. “They didn’t have to be so scared of airstrikes because they had an umbrella over them.”
The son of a general in Jonas Savimbi’s Unita rebel group, Nazar was born in Belgium in 1993. He grew up in the relative safety of suburban Brussels – barring a foiled kidnap attempt on his sister and the spectre of street gangs – as the Angolan civil war raged. After the nation became independent from Portugal in 1975, it was engulfed in a war between the communist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), backed by Reagan and the CIA. Nazar’s mother worked two jobs to keep the family in a middle-class neighbourhood. When peace came to Angola in 2002 after nearly three decades of fighting and the loss of an estimated 500,000 lives, the family moved back and Nazar encountered his homeland for the first time.
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