The birth of mbalax in Senegal towards the close of the 1970s, and a 2010 highlife/funk hybrid from south London, show how the embrace of imported styles by African musicians can enrich the continent's music.Click to read the full article
Digging into Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour's back catalogue is a fun exercise on two fronts. The recordings he made with the original Etoile de Dakar lineup between 1979-81 are a delight in their own right; and listening to them again in 2010 demonstrates how far N'Dour has travelled over the last 30 years. The punky, psychedelia-drenched proto-mbalax heard on Once Upon a Time in Senegal: The Birth of Mbalax 1979-1981 is in almost total contrast to the nuanced elegance of Egypt (Nonesuch, 2004) or the bland and over-polished vibe of Dakar-Kingston (Decca, 2010).
And yet there have been some constants over the decades. Etoile de Dakar's lead guitarist, Jimi Mbaye, and tama drummer, Assane Thiam, have remained at N'Dour's side since becoming founder members of his Super Etoile de Dakar, the breakaway group he founded in 1981. Bassist Kabou Gueye was another founder member of Super Etoile; now a freelance songwriter and producer based in Dakar, he and N'Dour co-wrote the material featured on Egypt (check the YouTube clip of that wonderful album's "Cheikh Ibra Fall" below). Then, of course, there is N'Dour's voice, no longer as raw as in the Etoile de Dakar years, but in its maturity, still every bit as spellbinding.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Etoile de Dakar featuring Youssou N'Dour: Once Upon a Time in Senegal: The Birth of Mbalax 1979-1981
Chris May reviews Etoile de Dakar featuring Youssou N'Dour Once Upon a Time in Senegal: The Birth of Mbalax 1979-1981