What with the “Produced By Manu Chao” sticker on the cover and the Metro’s ‘Album of the Week’, what more do you want from SMOD’s third album?
This trio of Ousko Cisse, Donsky Traoré and Sam Bagayoko apparently fill stadiums when they perform back home in Bamako but from the cover of their new album, well you’d think they look like some X-Factor boy band from New Cross? Not that there’s anything wrong with New Cross but this album is not such thing.
This is Africa’s answer to De La Soul (sans samples) as Malian folk meets hip hop. Having Amadou et Mariam as your parents (in the case of Bagayoko) ce n’est pas bon (hey! That’s two offspring in two days with Paul Cook’s daughter releasing her album yesterday, see Hollie Cook).
The afore mentioned José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao Ortega, the French singer/songwriter, born June 1961 in Paris to Spanish parents and general hip dude (see Damian’s ‘Born Fighting’ podcast HERE) style is all over this album but the opening track is particularly magnificent, ‘Les Dirigeants Africains’. This is a Charlie Gillett moment if there ever was one (still miss Charlie’s show even if Mark Coles continues to highlight African music on the BBC’s World Service show, ‘The Strand’; nice piece on Mulate Astake the last week)
But this is not just a one track album as ‘?áa Chante’, ‘Tidhidja’ and ‘Ambola’ are not behind and are ideal “get the crowd going” dancers; a sort of Amadou & Mariam (plus un) for youngsters.
‘Simbala’ is in more of a Malian Ladysmith Black Mambazo gospel groove and perhaps they wouldn’t sound so good if I knew what they were singing/rapping about but ‘Les Jeunes Filles du Maliba’ is one of those chorus’s that you find yourself joining in with; tout le monde a gagné so to speak.
Unusually for such an album, the special guests are limited to just one. And she is a bit special as Keny Arkana is a rap artist of Argentinean origins, albeit born in Marseille. Her music is highly influenced by her political and social interests and she races through her rant chorus on ‘J’ai Pas Peur du Micro’ which strangely fades out very quick at the end..
There’s another quick fade at the end of ‘Reviens Djarabi’ which is annoying but normal service returns with ‘Dakaan’ even with a touch of ‘Ring My Bell’ synth; world disco hip-hop? These guys were there first – brilliant!
The album finishes as good as it starts with ‘Fitre Waleya’ and whilst African hip hop has had quite a few deciples in the past, many generally cloning US hip hop which is a bit of a dead end for world music fans, SMOD (shame about the name) have overcome that problem as they sound totally original to me, although ‘Probl?®mes Dans Ma T?™te’ sounds a bit like their take on MC Solaar (but there’s nothing wrong with that in my book – Talkin’ Loud for life me with the T-shirt to prove it).
We’ve missed the gig they did with Titi Robin (last seen here with his 2009 album Kali Sutana, L’ombre Du Ghazal) at Ciné Lumi?®re (good review in the London Standard, see links below) but there’s no doubt these guys will be back and with the star names they are appearing with on the next 3 gigs at least, I expect news of their brilliance will spread pretty damn quick – catch them while you can.
Thursday 9 June 2011 Art Rock Festival at Saint-Brieuc with Who Knew, The Hives, Klaxons, Yann Tiersen, The Raveonettes, Yelle, Bryan Ferry, Aloe Blacc Saint-Brieuc France 48.5166667 -2.7833333
Jun 24 Friday 24 June 2011 Couleur Cafe 2011 at Tour&Taxis Tiken Jah Fakoly, DJ Shadow, Seal, Ziggy Marley, Method Man & Redman, Patrice, Kid Koala, Alborosie Tour&Taxis Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium 50.864423 4.349904
July 14 Thursday 14 July 2011 Colours of Ostrava 2011′ at ƒåern?° louka & Slezskoostravsk?? hrad Yann Tiersen, Santigold, Apollo 440, The Herbaliser, Mono, Clannad, The Horrors, Public Image Ltd. ƒåern?° Louka Ostrava, Czech Republic 49.830685 18.300482
Reviewed: SMOD – SMOD (Because Music) Cat. No. BEC5772583 Release date: 6th June 2011
1 Les Dirigeants Africains (3:59)
2 ?áa Chante (3:04)
3 Tidjidja (3:46)
4 Simbala (3:03)
5 Ambola (3:10)
6 Les Jeunes Filles Du Maliba (3:59)
7 J’ai Pas Peur Du Micro featuring Keny Arkana (3:22)
8 Reviens Djarabi (3:13)
9 Dakan (2:49)
10 Fenkoro (3:44)
11 Nedetado (3:04)
12 Problemes Dans Ma T?™te (3:52)
13 Fitre Waleya (5:14)
Evening Standard Monday 6th June 2011 : Titi Robin/SMOD Jumping To The Bamako Beat 4/5 Jane Cornwell thisislondon.co.uk
BBC World Service, The Strand – 26/05/2011 with novelist Jeffery Deaver and Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke http://www.bbc.co.uk