Rokku Mi Rokka (Nonesuch, 2007)
Grammy Award winner Youssou N’Dour comes again to claim fans with his latest CD Rokku Mi Rokka and North American tour set to launch November 15th. After the stunning Egypt, N’Dour returns with longtime friends and band mates of Super Etoile for a simpler fare as he explores Senegal’s music from the north and the desert and from the border countryside of Mali and Mauritania.
Adding the spice of blues, reggae and Cuban, N’Dour sets out to create a hotpot of African sounds that have traveled the world and now have come home, thanks to N’Dour. He says of the CD, "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.
Teaming up again with Super Etoile makes the journey sweeter with the likes of Habib Faye on bass, Babacar "Mbaye Dieye" Faye on percussion and Papa Oumar Ngom on guitar. Joining the circle is Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate on the ngoni for "Sama Gammu" along with the sensational vocalist Ousmane Kangue.
Rokku Mi Rokka also features a duet with N’Dour and Neneh Cherry called "Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)." As luck would have it Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis from the Orchestra Baobab just happened to be in the same studio as N’Dour so the two lent their vocals to "Xel."
Youssou N’Dour, with his timeless and soulful voice that circles the sky like a graceful bird, is at the center of this CD, but the whirlwind of guitar, kora, brass, keyboards and background vocals that surround N’Dour radiates pure goodness. Plummy tracks like "Sama Gammu" and the energy charged "Bajjan" and "Baay Faal" are simply gems.
Relying on a simple, homey sound, N’Dour fluffs out compositions like "Sportif" with horns, keyboards, marimba and enough percussion to raise the temperature in the room while adding hints of blues to the mix. "Dabbaax" is one of those feel good pieces with an air of good-natured honky tonk pluckiness that plays beautifully against N’Dour’s playful bluesy vocals.
Comprised of the African sound and the sounds that left Africa and returned, Rokku Mi Rokka is all about the Senegal clothed in the rest of the world.
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.