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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

ALPHA BLONDY

By Eric Seyfarth
Published September 8, 2005

Elohim
Shanachie

Alpha Blondy has never tip-toed around the political realties of his native Ivory Coast, and his latest disc finds him confronting head-on those responsible for the disintegration of his war-torn country as well as suffering in other parts of the continent. Blondy is often compared to Bob Marley for his musical and social statements, but his real genius and popularity stem from his ability to craft smooth and compelling songs without making you feel like you are being-force fed a political statement. This is furthered by his rotation of lyrics in French, English and Dioula. Here, the rootsy, silky French vocals on “Dictator” give no indication that he’s delivering a searing condemnation of the civil war in the Sudan, or that he is directly challenging his own government in “The Republic’s Thieves.” Reggae is one of the most adaptable forms of music on the planet and has brought about substantial international change. In the hands of Alpha Blondy, that tradition continues.