Rokia Traoré- Beautiful Africa

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Artist: Rokia Traoré

Album: Beautiful Africa

Label: Nonesuch Records

Beautiful Africa is quite the step outside of what is considered a normal “comfort zone” and the African roots of Traoré’s heritage are very apparent from the first note of the album. It really has elements of most popular music today though and has the kind of joyous feel that anyone can get behind. Beautiful Africa has an up beat feel and Rokia Traoré has a voice that exudes a soft power and guitar parts that have as much energy as any dub step song. The guitar that flows throughout the album is extremely intricate and complex but sounds so peaceful and inviting it seems almost anyone could pick up a guitar and mimic the sounds. There are many salsa and tribal influences and clearly it is an album made by someone not born into the western culture this world thrives on. The drums themselves are unlike most drum parts of today’s popular music and have a lot of salsa and reggae influences to back the jangly guitar parts. Of course there are slower songs, and that is where the real emotion comes from as the reduced tempo allows Traoré to focus on her singing. The one big difference is, Rokia Traoré sings most of her songs in French and Bambara (with a little English sprinkled in), the native languages from her home country of Mali. Produced by John Parish, the same guy that has worked with the likes of PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse and Eels, the production really helps set the relaxed but jubilant mood with the great mixing of the whole project. The themes of her songs are obviously harder to grasp with the language barrier but if one does just a tiny bit of research, it becomes apparent how meaningful her lyrics are. She sings of the strength of women in Africa and her home continent and all the untapped potential she comes from. It is an album that has a very thick, underlying layer of emotion built into the tracks and the feelings it creates really are not anticipated of an album so relaxed feeling.

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About J.STOR

Music= Lyf
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