African Revolution (Wrasse Records, 2010)
Leaving behind, his rifle bearing band of brothers who accompanied him on his last album, the African, Tiken Jah Fakoly rides out alone. Like a messenger at a time of unrest he rides out on horseback to give notice and to continue his message. With ‘African Revolution‘, there’s a less cluttered sound and a more intimate soulful approach. Fakoly opens the album singing in English, declaring change will come as a result of education. “Go to school brothers…intelligent revolution is African education.”
Reaching out to the youth he urges them to stay in school to find out the real challenges facing Africa, echoed in the track Political War featuring the vocals of Nigerian singer, Asa. A heartfelt plea to follow your own conscience and not to get sucked into other people’s wars.
On his return from exile in Bamako he was shocked to see so many young Ivorians unemployed with hands stretched out. ‘Il Faut Se Lever’, comes after his tribute to the late Bob Marley and his successor son, Ziggy. With a similar passion to Marley’s ‘Get Up Stand Up’ and echoing earlier sentiment he says that change will only come about if you get up, take action and do something.
Throughout the album he stays true to his reggae roots but somehow there’s more room given to Fakoly’s new found lyricism and chanson style with plenty of space given to traditional African percussion, kora, n’djarka, ngoni, konting, kora and calabass. Perhaps a consequence of his years in exile and time spent with young griots such as the ngoni player Andra Kouyate.
In the tracks ‘Je Dis Non’ and ‘Je ne Veux Pas Ton Pouvoir’ the ngoni creates a wonderful nonchallant air, a carefree skip in the step whilst the lyrics cover serious ground. Fans of Manu Chao and Moussu T et Lei Jovents will sit up immediately and those familiar with Tiken Jah Fakoly’s previously more muscly, defiant and bass heavy sound,will hopefully be pleasantly surprised with the new style and catchy melodies.
There are plenty of twists and changes in style and ‘Votez’ is a another winner, a Latin tinged afro rumba number which evokes the atmosphere of the dancehall as the sun begins to rise on a new day.
Tiken Jah Fakoly starts a European tour in November.
Buy Tiken Jah Fakoly’s albums:
- In North America: African Revolution , Francafrique, Cours D’Histoire, Le Cameleon, The African
- In Europe: African Revolution, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Cours D’histoire, Francafrique, Le Cameleon, Live in Paris
Author: Jill Turner
Jill Turner contributes to Songlines Magazine, World Music Central and is on the fRoots critics albums of the year panel. Her radio show GondwanaSound broadcasts on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM to the fourth largest city in the UK and is carried on both Radio Groovalizacion and African Internet Radio.