Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crate Digging: African Underground: The Depths of Dakar

Various Artists, Production by Ben Herson and Dan Cantor

This compilation cd came out in 2007, and features a variety of Senegalese rappers, rapping mostly in African dialects and occasionally in French. Not speaking any of these languages, I can't understand what any of the songs are about, but music is universal, and I can tell a nice flow when I hear it. There is a lot of that on this disc.

My main complaint with this cd is that the beats were all done by two Americans. I don't know how collaborative this process was with the artists, but I feel like it has diluted the authenticity of the work. But then, for all I know, they usually just rap over old Tupac instrumentals.... I feel a little like this project is not a pure expression of Senegalese hip-hop, in whatever form it would usually take.

That said, there are some nice songs on this album. The Zoo Squad's "Fresh Time Part 2" is a nice jazzy number, and Omzo's "Li Guen pt. 2" is a beautiful song. Many of the other tracks sound like standard hip-hop swagger, which gets a little boring in the first half, but the album definitely picks up towards the latter half.

In all, this is an interesting project. For African rap, I think I'll stick to K'Naan though....

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