This Malian band has been around since the '70s. Their music is rooted in the Sahara Desert and combines elements of African folk with Western rock. Electric guitars feature heavily in the mix along with strong percussion, and the lyrics are sung in the band's native Tamashek tongue and focus on the tumultuous political environment that the Tuareg people are forced to deal with.
Most of the members of Tinariwen were actually rebels in the Southern Sahara fighting against the Malian government. For their most recent release, the band was forced to flee their country due to the increasingly volatile climate. Trying to impose a different lifestyle, extremist groups have been banning music and threatening musicians directly. One of the members of Tinariwen’s band was even kidnapped. Thankfully, he was released, but not before the band had relocated to California’s Joshua Tree desert to record their latest album, Emmaar.