Somali Music, Afro Fusion
Aar Maanta produces an eclectic mix of styles blended with traditional Somali music, including the classical oud-centred Qaraami (“love songs” in Arabic) style of the 1940s. According to him, traditional Somali music shares many similarities with that of North Africa, and Somali musical genres draw from a diverse range of influences, such as Arabic and Indian sounds. Aar Maanta cites a growing appreciation with age for these roots of Somali music, as well as greater ease performing classical-based songs.
In 2006, Aar Maanta held his first notable performance at Rise: London United, the UK’s largest multi-cultural festival. There, he played alongside Graham Coxon, The Buzzcocks, and other prominent acts. Over 80,000 young people and families attended this event, bringing together London residents from many different ethnic communities.
Aar Maanta has since worked with various other artists including Algerian Raï singer Abdelkader Saadoun, UK hip hop group the Choong Family, and Somali musicians Maryam Mursal and Ahmed ‘Hudeydi’ Ismail Hussein.
Frustrated by what he regards as a lack of new Somali compositions, Aar produced his own record of original songs in his home studio. In 2008, his debut album Hiddo & Dhaqan was released, featuring tracks such as “Asalamu Alaykum”, “Saafi” and “Dhadhami”.
Aar Maanta is described by young Somalis in the UK as “the voice of our generation” because his songs discuss a range of issues of interest to Somali immigrants. His vocals have been touted as “almost Middle Eastern in feel,” with a broad singing range and laidback delivery. A multi-instrumentalist, he plays the keyboard and oud, the latter of which is a staple of traditional Somali, Arabic and North African music.