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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

ALPHA BLONDY

By Phil Meadley
Published April 26, 2006

Merci
Shanachie

The return of Africa’s greatest reggae artist is certainly a cause for celebration. Had this album been pretty woeful it would still have been wonderful to know that Alpha Blondy was alive and well after recent rumors of ill health. Blondy’s history of mental illness has been well documented and his temperamental behavior has been known to put many people off working with him. However, this, his first studio album in four years, is certainly not a lame excuse to rediscover his high profile as the Ivory Coast’s most famous son. As one would expect the album is littered with uptempo reggae grooves and conscious lyricisms. For example, one of the most infectious tracks, “Who Are You,” tackles important issues of land mines, illegal aliens and dispossessed children, and “Hey Jack” focuses attention on recent street conflicts in the Ivory Coast. “Wari” features France’s most prestigious rap collective, Saian Supa Crew, and is an infectious slice of Afrocentric funk and reggae roots. All in all this is a well-rounded and revitalized performance by Blondy.