Around The World

African Pop Meets American Funk

Exploring the Mangambe Rhythm

by Steve Rucker

Popular African pop rhythms from the past twenty to thirty years are starting to appear in American funk music. In this article we’ll explore the triplet-based African rhythm mangambe, which we’ll apply to a funk setting. 

Mangambe, or mangambeu, as it’s written in French, is a popular musical style among the people of Cameroon. The primary rhythm consists of the first two partials of a triplet on each beat. The second partial of the triplet is often accented. Here’s an example of the mangambe rhythm voiced on the drumset.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 1

Notice that the hi-hat rhythm is very similar to the American shuffle, except that it’s displaced by an 8th note. Here’s the American shuffle pattern on the hi-hat.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 2

A shuffle-funk groove can be derived from this pattern by adding the bass drum on the downbeat and the snare on beat 3.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 3

Here are some variations of this pattern.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 4-6


Let’s place the mangambe hi-hat rhythm over each of these grooves to create an African-American hybrid.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 5

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 6

We can now add ghost notes on the snare to give the rhythm a little more density. First practice the hands alone.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 7

As a variation, accent the second partial of each triplet.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 8

Now add the bass drum variations from the previous exercises. Once you’ve got that together, try incorporating the hi-hat variation from Exercise 12.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 9

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 10

The bass drum rhythms used in the previous exercises are from the standard American shuffle-funk repertoire. Next we’ll use some bass drum patterns from African pop, along with the shuffle-funk hand pattern.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 11

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 12

Here’s a mangambe-funk groove from Jonathan Joseph (Jeff Beck) that begins around 00:32 in the YouTube video “Jonathan Joseph—Exercises in African-American Funk.” Note the mangambe hi-hat pattern and the bass drum on the second triplet partials.

Exploring The Mangambe Rhythm 13

For further development of this style, I’ve co-written a book with Joseph called Exercises in African-American Funk: Mangambe, Bikutsi, and the Shuffle (Modern Drummer Publications). Topics include African polyrhythms, practice tips, and an exploration of the mangambe and bikutsi rhythms. The book is available at

Steve Rucker is the director of drumset studies at the University of Miami, and he is the co-author of African-American Funk, which is available through Modern Drummer Publications.