Leading West African singer DJ Arafat dies in road crash

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Riot police officers try to disperse people gathered outside an hospital in Abidjan on Monday, after Ivorian singer DJ Arafat, star of the "coupe-decale" and one of the most popular Ivorian artists, died at the age of 33 following a motorcycle accident overnight. — AFP

ABIDJAN — DJ Arafat, an Ivorian singer with a huge following in francophone Africa, has died after a road accident in Abidjan, the state broadcaster RTI said on Monday.

"Death of artist DJ Arafat... today at 8 a.m. as a result of a road accident overnight," it tweeted.

According to messages and pictures circulating on social media, he had been driving a motorbike and smashed into a car. Critically injured, the singer, 33, was taken to an Abidjan hospital, where he later died.

Born in Abidjan in 1986, DJ Arafat — real name Ange Didier Huon — had a massive audience in French-speaking western and central African countries.

He issued 11 albums, mainly of "coupe-decale" — a dance music form combining rapid percussion, choppy rhythms with hip hop-style vocals.

"We are all in shock," Ickx Fontaine, an Ivorian producer and specialist in hip hop told AFP. "He was a real singer and a drummer... he gave a new breath of life to coupe-decale."

Later on Monday, around 1,000 fans gathered, weeping and chanting "Arafat cannot die" in front of the hospital in Abidjan's Cocody suburb where the singer died, reporters at the scene said.

Ivorian Culture Minister Maurice Kouakou Bandaman expressed his condolences and said a tribute would be held to honor the musician.

The high-octane music often using electronic sounds was born in 2003 in Ivorian nightclubs but quickly spread throughout Africa. DJ Arafat's fame expanded to Europe and the United States, thanks in part to sports stars who made some of the genre's dance steps popular.

DJ Arafat was named "Best Artist of the Year" at the Ivorian "Coupe-decale" Awards in 2016 and 2017.

He was born in the music world. His mother was a well-known singer and his father a prominent sound engineer, one music manager said. He started as a DJ in Yopougon, one of Abidjan's night-life districts.

"He had a natural charisma," said Ozone, a hip hop producer and television host. "He will remain a force for Ivorian and African music." — AFP


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