Born to a musical family, Afel Bocoum was 13 when he joined fellow Malian Ali Farka Touré's band as a vocalist and guitar player. After finishing his studies in agriculture, he took a job in agricultural development. His field experience would inform his songwriting. Expressing himself through the different dialects of his region, Bocoum sang about the daily struggles of his people. In 1997, he recorded his first album, Alkibar, which was released two years later. After a successful European tour, the musician participated in the collaborative Mali Music project, in 2002, under the baton of English multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Damon Albarn. This was followed by another effort cross-cultural effort, Desert Music, which employed a cast of players from Rajasthan. In 2007, Alef Bocoum released new album Niger.