Firin' in Fouta

by: Baaba Maal

Senegalese pop legend-to-be Baaba Maal released Firin' in Fouta in 1994. The album starts with a tribute to his bass player (and his family lineage of griots). Following is a tribute to African women that has more than a tinge of Latin thrown in. "Swing Yela" is a piece infused with more than his usual amount of pop, including a small dose of rap. Following songs range in topic from the Muslim faith to the world market to children's games. The thing that makes Baaba Maal appealing, especially on the Western market, is the way in which he combines seemingly traditional vocal techniques with up to date instrumentation. The keyboards and, more importantly, the drum loops give the songs a deep European club feel along with a strong push in the way of the vocals. Overall, its not a bad album in any way, though it could be attacked by fundamentalists on either side of the range of the album. African traditional music fanatics as well as Parisian clubbers. Conversely, it could easily be embraced by both. For a look into the brightest form of new music in the worldbeat tradition (traditional + western = worldbeat), Firin' in Fouta might be a pretty good shot. ~ Adam Greenberg

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