Various Africa Raps

Screw the Bronx, some savvy soul has gone to the ghettos of the motherland to round up the best of Africa's hip-hop contingent - music previously available only in the cassette shops of Senegal, Mali and Gambia. It's curious that African music is thought of almost exclusively in the traditional sense, as if black hip-hop heroes from the States hadn't influenced Africa as much as the rest of the globe, but Dakar alone boasts over 2,000 acts. Much of Africa Raps is in French (and therefore somewhat reminiscent of MC Solaire's francophone flow), but many other rappers use native languages, like Wolof, and nobody ever accused Africans of lacking rhythm. Mixing traditional percussion or fusing Mbalax with rap, artists like Abass Abass, Da Brains (featuring Youssou N'Dour's little brother) and Positive Black Soul offer an exciting glimpse into an overlooked world where hip-hop is still a way of life, not a ticket to bling. (Trikont)