Music From Saharan Cellphones is a compilation album released by Sahel Sounds in 2011. The project features various tracks recorded in Saharan Africa collected from the memory cards of discarded cell phones. According to Bandcamp, "In much of West Africa, cellphones are used as all-purpose multimedia devices. In lieu of personal computers and high-speed internet, the knockoff cellphones house portable music collections, playback songs on tiny built-in speakers, and swap files in a very literal peer-to-peer Bluetooth wireless transfer."
One of the most notable sample inclusions of the compilation came as an unlikely pairing with abrasive experimental hip-hop group Death Grips, on their infamous 2012 release titled, 'The Money Store.' Widely regarded as one of the best experimental hip-hop albums of all time, The Money Store features multiple samples from 'Music From Saharan Cellphones’. With Music From Saharan Cellphones, you have sonically simplistic tracks likely recorded on dated cell phones. The limitations of this technology provide a sonic sound/style that is a product of the medium (cellphone) itself.
These technological limitations are seen as a positive through this lens, allowing for the publication of a unique, simplistic sound indicative of the memory card trade in the Sahara. By contrast, you have 'The Money Store' sonically, one of the most unique and cohesive experimental projects to date. Death Grips takes Music From Saharan Cellphones and morphs it into a distorted, violent, aggressive sound so far displaced from its original roots.
Below is a list of instances in which Music from Saharan Cellphones was sampled on ‘The Money Store’
Pabito ft. Iba One - Yereyira - Featured on - Death Grips - Get Got (both are timestamped)
For us, the stark contrast that the sounds offer sonically is a striking distinction between the two musical undertakings. Combining opposites of this fashion creates dualities in how starkly music production can be between different locations on the planet and limitation of technology.
There are several theories on why the Music From Saharan Cellphones is sampled so heavily throughout the album's runtime with no definitive explanation. For now, Music From Saharan Cellphones will continue to live on through the internet, reaching far beyond its Saharan origins.