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Many Lessons: Hiphop - Islam - West Africa

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Many Lessons: HipHop, Islam, West Africa
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Audio CD, 28 Apr 2008
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Product details

  • Audio CD (28 April 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Piranha Womex Ag
  • ASIN: B001546M66
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 833,182 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product Description

Prominent American Muslim rappers Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def or Jurassic 5 are often asked about their beliefs and how these conflict with hip-hop. Orthodox Muslims, on the other hand, are generally suspicious of pop culture - especially of American hip-hop culture which often celebrates materialism and openly flaunts sexuality. But in Western Africa, hip-hop and Islam aren't at odds with one another. As the rap movement swept through Africa in the last few years, young rappers (in many African countries the majority of the population is under thirty) learned how to make Islam an aspect of their music. Some combine devoutness with social criticism, others criticise using religion to achieve political aims. ‘Many Lessons’ offers a new, different and young approach to Islam and its topics Tracks: Many Lessons - Bantu feat. Ayuba / Andando - African Akhlou Bi / Liye Raam - Keur Gui / Selebou Yoon - Sister Fa / Salamalekoum - Les Escrocs / Deadfathers, Fayaale - Rifo and Lamine Kouyate / Jbal Atlas - MidNight Shems / My Life In The Ghetto - Silatigui / Ya Rassulilah - Backa / Xonet - Docta / Bataxal - General Snipe feat. Kine Thiam / In God We Trust - Gokh-Bi System / Jeuf Jel Leu - Gaston feat. Niagass / Mighty Inteligence - Dread Skeezo feat. Dread Maxim Bonus Video interview with Sister Fa

BBC Review

Behind the counterfeit 50 Cent T-shirts and bootleg mixtapes piled high in market stalls in Western African cities like Dakar lies a thriving indigenous hip-hop culture, one that's inspired as much by the teachings of Mohammed as it is the rhymes of Jay-Z. For, if hip-hop is meant to tell the truth of everyday life, then it's natural that in countries such as Senegal and Mali where Islam is the dominant religion that rappers should reflect that in their rhymes. So in some ways, although the ideals of devout Islam seem to directly contradict the materialism espoused by those rappers flaunting their rides and riches across MTV, this Islamic hip-hop is much truer to the music's original spirit than almost anything we've heard on Def Jam recently.

That's one thing we learn from Many Lessons - a compilation of Muslim rappers from Western Africa - although unless you're fluent in the different languages used here you are going to need the words translated to work that out. Yet whilst understanding what the likes of Keur Gui or African Akhlou Bi are actually saying as they rap about their spiritual and political beliefs adds a whole new depth to what you are hearing, it's far from essential for enjoying this music. That's because Wolof and Mandinke, the two main languages used here, flow so smoothly when rapped that when the odd verse is dropped in English - as on Backa's Ya Rassulilah - the tongue we're most used to hearing in hip-hop sounds almost awkward and unwieldy in comparison. And the cadence of the lyrics is largely mirrored in the beats, which feature far more native instruments like the djembe and mbalax influences than they do boom-bap breaks, although there are certainly some sprightly basslines to be found in Sister Fa's Selebou Yoon or Silatigui's My Life In The Ghetto. But for all the Islamic and African music influences Many Lessons remains recognisably a hip-hop more than world music album, or rather one that teaches us that hip-hop is world music in the most literal sense of the term. --Paul Clarke

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on 19 October 2008
Format: Audio CD
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