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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published April 19, 2006

Real World

Senegal has produced enduring musical stars, such as Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal; now comes the acoustic-guitar-toting pair of Papa Amadou Fall and Cheikhou Coulibaly. Pape and Cheikh count Joan Armatrading, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan as influences, and they (along with traditional sounds of the Sere region of Senegal) inform every tune on Mariama. Pape & Cheikh could easily have stopped with their hit “Mariama,” an Afropop dance number getting better with every play. But they don’t. Chic-like funk (thanks to Oumar Sow’s wah-wah guitar) moves through “Yaay,” a homage to mothers everywhere. The mbalax “Yatal Gueew” (Widening the Circle) calls for unity to Senegalese heeded during the relatively peaceful national elections of 2001. And on the completely acoustic “Kokoliko,” a cook and hyena speak of loss and life. The juxtaposition of modern protest songs and traditional respect of elders, each other and nature, give Mariama depth. But it’s Pape and Cheikh’s musical curiosity giving this collection soul.