When you’re an international superstar, I suppose there’s got to be a little give and take here and there to keep everyone happy; but has N’Dour got it right with his new album?
Rokku Mi Rokka is the follow up to N’Dour’s 2004 Grammy Award-winning Egypt, a joint celebration of Senegal’s Muslim mystical culture of Sufism that featured traditional musicians from Dakar and Cairo.
The new album continues this exploration of traditional music and is more to do with the desert blues of the Sengalese boarders of Mali and Mauritania. In short, if you’re into Tinariwen, you’re going to love this album.
A bit of a departure for N’Dour and he’s said, “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.”
And that’s it, there are bits of this and bits of that but the core sound is desert Africa; and to make sure he got the sound spot on, he’s used the band he helped form in 1979, the Super ?âtoile.
Of course, N’Dour made his international name via his friendship with Peter Gabriel and had the ’7 Seconds’ hit with Neneh Cherry (as related to Don Cherry). That was 1994(!) and they’ve teamed up again here on “Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)” which is bar far the worst track on the album (recommend ignoring this one altogether).
The other guests are more successful. Mail’s ngoni expert Bassekou Kouyat?©, (ex-member of Ali Farka Tour?©‘s band) appears on ‘Sama G?†mmu’ along with Ousmane Kangue. And then there’s Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis (of Orchestra Baobab) on vocals as they happened to be N’Dour’s studio recording their album on the day he recorded this ‘Xel’.
There have been lots of great albums this year (one or two on just on Nonesuch) and this is way up there with them (as you’d expect).
Reviewed: Youssou N’Dour – Rokku Mi Rokka (Give And Take) (Nonesuch) Released 23rd October 2008
Youssou N’Dour (Vocals), Habib Faye (bass), Babacar “Mbaye Dieye” Faye (percussion), and Papa Oumar Ngom (guitar)
1 4-4-44 (3:38)
2 Pullo ?Ärdo (The Shepherd) (4:00)
3 Sama G?†mmu (My Rival) (3:58)
4 B?†jjan (The Father’s Sister) (4:06)
5 Baay Faal (4:47)
6 Sportif (Sportsman) (3:26)
7 Tukki (Travel) (4:10)
8 L?©tt Ma (Indecision) (4:42)
9 Dabbaax (5:11)
10 Xel (Think) (4:52)
11 Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) (3:57)