During the mid-’90s, Ahmed Janka Nabay traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone’s largest city, to audition for “SuperSound,” a music-oriented TV talent contest not unlike “American Idol.” He had planned to do a reggae tune, but, because the judges were looking for something a little closer to home, Nabay decided to perform bubu, a style of traditional music originated by the nation’s Temne people, which he had grown up listening to. The sounds resonated with the judges and also with the people of Sierra Leone, who eagerly purchased his cassette releases. Nabay became something of a celebrity, the Bubu King.
Since then, the singer has relocated to the United States. After a few years of relative anonymity, much of it spent working in the fast-food industry, the singer was rediscovered by Brooklyn Afro-pop aficionados, who connected him with a U.S. label, True Panther Sounds, and a new band, the Bubu Gang.