On the northern edge of the Amazon rainforest lies a small nation of Dutch-speaking Asian and African voyagers who make swingin’ Indo-Caribbean music. Nope, you can’t make this stuff up..
Welcome to Suriname, the land of alien toads and human experimentation. With only half a million people in this former Dutch colony, the Surinamese have slipped under the international radar to become the most ethnically and religiously diverse nation in the Americas.
More than half the population is of Asian ancestry, coming mainly from North India and the Indonesian island of Java as contract workers over a hundred years ago. The rest of the inhabitants are of mixed West-African descent, with a small minority of indigenous peoples (3.7%) still watching over the rainforest. The Dutch seem to have disappeared almost completely, leaving behind their language and wooden shoes.
The greatest sonic blend of traditions is revealed in a wonderfully rhythmic style called Kaseko – a hybrid of early jazz music, calypso, and Creole drumming/chanting. In other words, a pan-Caribbean groove monster!
Many influential Surinamese musicians (including Lieve Hugo — the undisputed king of Kaseko) went on to live and perform in Holland, spreading African rhythms further around the planet. Truly mind-bending, the musical influence that Africans have had on other cultures over the past hundred years…
There is also very authentic Indian Classical music and Javanese Gamelan music being played in Suriname. Yet the different ethnic groups remain relatively segregated in this country, and we are still waiting for Afro-Indian Gamelan funk-hop to emerge from the ether of Paramaribo. But for now, some vintage Surinamese disco-funk:
Check out a great Surinamese music blog here.
Our weekly Global Mix here.
And our Suriname Special here. –including classic Kaseko, 70’s rock, classic Indian folk, hip-hop, reggae, soul, and so on..