Coupé Decalé

Coupé Decalé is a style of popular music and dance from Ivory Coast. The music and dance style had its beginnings in the night clubs of Abidjan and later spread to France by ex-patriots fleeing civil war in the early 2000s. The music is popular in francophone Africa and Caribbean and Lusophone Africa. The term Coupé Decalé comes from the French word coupé which means "to cheat" and decalé which means "to runaway." Together, it literally means to "cut and run" or "swindled then disappeared."


The music had its beginnings in the night-life and clubs of Abidjan, among the La Jet Set, a group of rappers and singers, who had established a reputation for flamboyance and flashy dance styles. When civil war broke out in 2002, La Jet Set fled to Paris and establish base in l'Atlantic night club. They began to reproduce the club music popular in Abidjan at that time. Their spice of life dances, funny lyrics, throwing money to the audience, adornment of expensive brands like Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, and giving away champagne for free, soon made them popular among the black youth of Paris. Coupé Decalé began to be viewed as a lifestyle and attitude to emulate, the in thing. In addition, with the distribution of amateur dance videos on the internet,  the Coupé Decalé phenomena spread.


Coupé Decalé is electronic music, meant for the clubs. The music makes use of traditional Ivorian and Congo rhythms. The beats can approach lightning speed or fast/slow combination and contrast. The beats are continuous and repetitive.

Coupé-Décalé can have a trance-like feel, produce by synthesizers, in its current state. Typically, the music takes on an accordion-like texture and tone, giving it a traditional feel.

Lyrically, Coupé-Décalé is funny. It makes use of smart puns, word-plays, and double entendres. Subject matter is rarily serious or on a socially conscious theme. The genre can be very materialistic, boasting of expensive wears.


Coupé-Décalé is dance music. Dance is very competitive. One tries to be faster and flashier than ones opponent. The name of the song compliments the dance. The dance tries to illustrate the song and the song usually expresses everyday activities, sometimes famous figures, or current events. For example, the song "Sagacite" spawned the Drogbacite dance craze inspired by soccer player Didier Drogba. The  "Grippe Aviaire" song produced a dance around the bird flu epidemic. The song "Guantanamo" produced a dance around the inmates of the aforemention prison.

Works Cited

Ham, Anthony(2010). Lonely planet, pp. 309.ISBN 1741049881, 9781741049886
McDonnel, John(2008). Scene and Heard:Coupé-Décalé. MusicBlog, 18 November 2008.. retrieved 28-August-2008
Migrating Music. Taylor and Francis, pp. 57-58 ISBN 1136900942, 9781136900945

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