"However eclectic your music collection, it would still need to go some way to match the sheer range of tracks shared by villagers swapping songs via Bluetooth and Sim card in the Sahara. Bollywood classics, Algerian Rai, Kuduro, French ballads – this is just a sample grab of the kind of sounds doing the rounds there, many of which can be found on Music from Saharan Cellphones, a mixtape put together by Portland-based blogger Christopher Kirkley.
"The cellphone is such a fixture of west Africa. Everyone has a phone even in villages lacking reception," explained Kirkley, who collected MP3 memory cards in the Tuareg city of Kidal in northern Mali. "They're not just phones, they're all purpose media devices. In the west we maintain a repository of data on hard drives, in Sahel, the cellphone does the same thing."