Youssou N'Dour Rokku Mi Rokka

Youssou N'Dour Rokku Mi Rokka
Mbalax legend Youssou N’Dour’s new album (translated as Give and Take) finds Africa’s best-known musician drawing inspiration once again from Senegalese traditional music, coming after Egypt’s religious excursion into Arabic orchestral sounds. Rokku Mi Rokka is occasionally nourished by rhythms of the African diaspora in the Caribbean and features intricate arrangements with a lush, popish sound, though it never strays from N’Dour’s organic sensibilities. Less aimed at the Western pop market than some of N’Dour’s earlier work, only one track here is in English, and notably it is with Neneh Cherry. But unlike their earlier collaboration ("7 Seconds”), "Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)” doesn’t sound like an American song with an African singer. Instead, the influences are evened out and the track is better for it. Elsewhere, N’Dour offers tribute to Mullaay Dabbaax over the lazy, bluesy "Dabbaax” and, at times, "Létt Ma” almost comes off as an inspired Cajun/country/African hybrid. Rokku Mi Rokka is a strong, if not essential, edition to N’Dour’s considerable catalogue. (Nonesuch)