Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Youssou N’Dour - Interview

“The music and inspiration on this album are from the north, from the desert, from parts of the country that border on Mali and Mauritania. People from those countries will know and understand this music as well as people who come from the centre of Senegal” N’Dour says.

“Some people might think Senegalese music means mbalax, which is Wolof, the most important language in the country, everybody speaks it. But all my life I have been saying that this is not the only music we have in Senegal, we have a wide range of sounds and rhythms. When it came to writing the songs for this album, I wanted to use different sounds.

“Sometimes you will hear a little blues on the album, a little reggae, a bit of Cuba. In Africa, we get excited when we hear these rhythms, because we feel them, they are ours, but they left Africa with the slaves a long time ago. Rokku Mi Rokka means ‘You give me something, I give you something’ and that’s the message of the album: we have received a lot from the developed world, but remember that we brought a lot, too.”

For the recording, N’Dour returned to the band he helped form a quarter of a century ago, the Super Etoile, and old friends Habib Faye (bass), Babacar “Mbaye Dieye” Faye (percussion) and Papa Oumar Ngom (guitar), who have been part of Youssou’s circle for more than 20 years. “They are not from the north, but they are Senegalese, they understand exactly what is happening in the north, the south, and the centre.”

There are a few additions to the team, too. Neneh Cherry, duets with Youssou on “Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)”. (Cherry and N’Dour previously recorded the hit song ‘7 Seconds’ in 1994). “We’re not trying to have another ‘7 Seconds’ as this is a much more African-sounding song, featuring our instruments, such as kora,” N’Dour says.
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