Rap and hip-hop have for decades, been considered to be a purely American musical style. While they might have started in America, rap and hip-hop have spread around the world and blended into cultures in countless nations. Among those nations that has seen rap and hip-hop become part of their musical culture is the West African nation of Mali. World Music Network will present a new collection of rap and hip-hop from Mali on Friday in another new addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To…series, The Rough Guide to Urban Mali. The compilation will appeal to rap and hip-hop fans just as much as it will to World Music fans. That is due in part to its featured songs. This element will be discussed shortly. The companion booklet that comes with the compilation sequencing adds an extra layer of appeal to the recording and will be addressed a little later. The sequencing of the compilation’s songs sequencing of said songs rounds out the record’s most important elements. When it is considered along with the rest of the noted elements, that whole make this recording a unique presentation that audiences will find is worth hearing at least once.
World Music Network’s new rap and hip-hop record is an interesting look into the worldwide reach of the genre. That is the case even with the compilation coming without the accompaniment of English translations for the songs. The lack of English translations is at least somewhat beside the point because Mali is a multilingual nation, and the songs’ musical arrangements clearly show the influence of so many popular American rap and hip-hop stars on the Malian rap and hip-hop communities. Even using a respected application, such as Google translate is largely useless because of the variety of languages spoken in the country. Rapper Alfi Boy’s song ‘Kankou Massa’ echoes the influence of Pitbull, considering Alfi Boy’s vocal delivery style and the tropical sounding musical arrangement. The sound in the arrangement and the use of the percussion is a near direct exhibition of Pitbull’s style. On another level, rapper Alka Po’s song ‘Chica’ can just as easily be likened to work from Lil Wayne. That is evident in examining his own vocal delivery style and the apparent use of auto tuning in said delivery. What’s more, the use of the keyboards and electronics presents a sound and stylistic approach that is similar to that of Lil Wayne. One could even make a comparison to various works from equally famed rapper Drake in this case. Zinoko’s song ‘Dire,’ which opens the record is another way in which the compilation’s songs prove so important to its presentation. Its own instrumentation couples with Zinoko’s vocal delivery style make for a whole that lends itself to comparisons to works from Denzel Curry. Other listeners might manage other comparisons, each of which is certain to be correct in its own right. The point here is that while the lyrical content in the compilation’s featured songs is unavailable in this collection (something which hopefully the people at World Music Network will keep in mind with their next foreign release), the musical styles show a clear influence from American rap and hip-hop. That in itself is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences. it forms a strong cornerstone for the compilation. The noted discussions will grow even more when the record’s companion booklet is taken into consideration with the songs.
The booklet that is featured with The Rough Guide to Urban Mali will add to the discussions started by the record’s songs because of the background that it offers audiences. The booklet’s liner notes point out that the increase in popularity of rap and hip-hop in Mali did not start until at least “the end of the 1990s.” That would explain why so many of the songs featured in this record exhibit arrangements that are so similar to works from the current wave of American rap and hip-hop stars. Add in that the booklet’s liner notes point out that “more than 65 percent of Mali’s population is below the age of 25, and the picture becomes clearer as to why the similarities in musical styles are so apparent between American and Malian rap and hip-hop stars. Just as interesting is the note that in Mali, the growth in the popularity of rap and hip-hop grew out of frustration over the nation’s sociopolitical state. The notes add that the music evolved from being purely sociopolitical to being more centered on more commonplace topics, such as everyday life. This is important to note because American rap and hip-hop has evolved in much the same way. At the same time, there is still very much an avenue of the genre in American music that remains very political (E.g. Public Enemy). Even with that in mind, audiences will find much in common between American rap and hip-ho and that of Mali in terms of the lyrical content, which is certain to add to the record’s appeal. Referring back to the previous statement about the language barrier, the liner notes do state that most of the lyrics are delivered in Bambara, but most online translators do not offer such option, so again a lack of English translations is still slightly disconcerting, but not enough to make the compilation a failure. The liner notes, while brief, are still rich in their own right. They build on the discussions started through the songs and enhance them even more. Keeping that in mind, the record’s presentation becomes that much more appealing for any rap and hip-hop fan. It is just one more way in which the LP proves itself an interesting presentation. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of The Rough Guide to Urban Mali is important to note in that it does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained. The record starts strong with the completely infectious ‘Dire.’ From there, the record’s energy pulls back noticeably in ‘A Kadiye.’ From there, the record’s energy slowly picks back up in ‘Kankou Moussa.’ That energy pulls back again immediately after in ‘Fan,’ but not too much. This is just a portion of the record’s sequencing. From that point on, the record’s sequencing sees the energy rising and falling in all of the right points and rhythms. At the same time, the musical styles change just enough from start to end to add to that interest even more. It’s yet another way in which the record’s sequencing proves so important to its presentation. When it is considered along with the record’s featured songs and its companion booklet, the whole of these items makes the record a work that rap and hip-hop fans the world over will agree is worth hearing at least once.
World Music Network’s latest addition to its Rough Guide To… series is an interesting new look at the global influence of America’s rap and hip-hop community. That is proven in part through the compilation’s featured songs. They show clear influence of so many of today’s biggest names in the rap and hip-hop community. That in itself will generate plenty of discussions among listeners. The companion booklet that accompanies the featured songs will enhance the noted discussions even more while adding to the record’s engagement and entertainment value. The sequencing rounds out the compilation’s most important elements. It ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own way. That is because it keeps the record’s energy rising and falling at all of the right points. At the same time, the musical styles change just as much, ensuring even more, that engagement and entertainment. All three items noted are key in their own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the compilation a work that is sure to appeal to rap and hip-hop fans from Mali to America and beyond.
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