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Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take)

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Product Description

Product Description

On Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take), Youssou N'Dour's third Nonesuch album, the Dakar-based singer delves further into the traditional music of his native Senegal, a journey he began with 2002's Nothing's In Vain and dramatically expanded with 2004's Egypt, an openhearted exploration of his Islamic faith that won a Grammy, a MOBO and a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. N'Dour, who sings expressively in the Senegalese language of Wolof, has been renowned throughout his three-decade career for popularizing the mbalax sound - a mix of traditional elements with Afro-Cuban rhythm, to which he adds, as Peter Gabriel has put it, "A voice of liquid gold." For this album, N'Dour explains, "The music and the inspiration are from the north, from the desert, from parts of the country that border on Mali and Mauritania. In Senegal, we have a wide range of sound and rhythms. When it came to writing songs for this album, I wanted to use different sounds. Sometimes you will hear a little blues on this album, a little reggae, a bit of Cuba."

N'Dour is backed by his equally legendary long-time band, the Super Etoile, who will join him this year on tour, and by some special guests, including Senegalese singers Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis of Orchestra Baobab, Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate (formerly of Ali Farka Toure's band) and Neneh Cherry, with whom N'Dour had recorded the 1994 international hit `7 Seconds'. Their new French/English duet, `Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)', already garnering airplay on radio stations around the world, features a sinuous hip-hop beat, a soulful horn section and that compelling blend of two powerful, unmistakable voices. With its exhortative lyrics and hip-swaying groove, `Wake Up' conveys the message of N'Dour's current music, which often references Senegalese history (`4-4-44', `Dabbaax') and various aspects of its culture (`Pullo Ārdo', `Bàjjan'). N'Dour explains, "Rokku Mi Rokka means `You give me something, I give you something'... We have received a lot from the developed world, but remember that we brought a lot too."

BBC Review

Youssou N'Dour is a genuine African superstar, and probably one of the first artists people name when they think of world music. That Peter Gabriel hit. That Neneh Cherry hit. And maybe that's the problem, because if, to paraphrase Manu Chao, world music is a bastardized term, betraying anglocentric sensibilities, then isn't there precisely a problem with Youssou N'Dour's seemingly endless bid to conquer the Western pop charts? His 2004 album, Egypt, seemed to wrongfoot these long-standing issues, by combining Senegalese harmony and Arabic orchestral pop arrangements into a celebration of Sufism, but if Rokku Mi Rokka sometimes lives up to its promise of celebrating Senegal's diversity, it also provides more ammunition for the worrying proposition that N'Dour might be something of a Senegalese Mick Hucknall, with all the moves and none of the soul.

It's particularly unfortunate that the main offenders are the opening and closing track (the infantile "4-4-44" and the clunking "Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)", a feeble retread of "7 Seconds" that even features Neneh Cherry) because a lot of the music in between is very good. The inclusion of Bassekou Kouyate, the ngoni player from Mali, invests the proceedings with a lighter, airy feel, most notably on "Dabbaax" and "Sama Gammu" which also features the new singer Ousmane Kangue. Elsewhere, Orchestra Baobab sing on "Xel" and "Bay Faal" adds an urban edge to the sounds of the north country, with electric guitar and strings. It's when N'Dour is at his most adventurous and experimental that the album is most successful, although the return to his trademark mbalax rhythms on "Baijan" has its charms too. Its just a shame that the final memories we are left with are "Africa Calling", over-production and a pointless guest spot. On the evidence of this album, Youssou needs to stop trying to cross over and let us come to him. --Tim Nelson

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b6b293c) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b73bcfc) out of 5 stars cd review 12 Jan. 2009
By Keith F. Hayward - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Not the same catchey stuff as his past albums but really worth collecting and listening to.Great voice and well produced melodies
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b73bd50) out of 5 stars Best out of Africa 1 Oct. 2012
By Anna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Youssou N'dour speaks to your soul in Wolof. Each song speaks to the Senegalese history and desire to move forward in peace.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b73d048) out of 5 stars Excellent 13 Sept. 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love Youssou's music. His voice is awesome! This CD sound is a mixture of past styled with present day. Excellent CD!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b73bf24) out of 5 stars Rokku Mi Rokka by Youssou N'door 17 Dec. 2007
By C. Lains - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The disc is excellent. Enjoyed it very much. A blend of acient and modern African music. Very well done and exciting.
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