[15 November 2010]
PopMatters PopLocal Features Editor
Every once in a while you hear a compilation gathered from a time or place so different from your own that the music shatters a good handful of your assumptions about what music should and does sound like. Yes We Can: Songs about Leaving Africa is not that compilation. It does take a few steps in that direction, though. The songs, on the whole, are nothing to scrap your CD collection over, but extensive liner notes and the tender loving care of Rose Skelton make the compilation an engaging and very human document of the imagery and culture of African nationals overseas. Skelton is a British journalist who has spent the last ten years reporting on music and culture all over Africa but especially in Dakar, Senegal. The disc includes tracks from artists and collaborations that span Africa, the United States, the UK, and Europe. It’s a fitting cross-section for a collection dedicated to the migrant experience.
Every so often a song stands out as a keeper, but what really makes this CD shine is the picture you get from the notes and music taken together. Yes We Can: Songs about Leaving Africa is more about Africa than it is about African music.