Senegalese Carlou D, like Cheikh Lô, is a Baye Fall Sufi, a fact you could deduce from his song titles (“Sam Fall”, “Yaay Fall”) if the dreadlocks didn’t give it away first. Lô‘s groove is not his thing though—call his style polySenegalese new-trad or something similar. The man magpies ideas from all over the country’s musical history, bits and pieces of kora, some ritti, mbalax, even a song that tumbles along over a background of—Is it? It is!—the Cuban son that gave bands like Orchestra Baobab a trellis to wind their tendrils around. Youssou N’Dour, mentoring again, sorrows with him on “Gorée” but they’re two-thirds of the way into the song before the duet gels. A solo artist since the break-up of Dakar’s Positive Black Soul, D says, “The part of hip hop which I have kept in my music is the courage to be direct.” He’s kept a socially conscious stance as well, as the English-speaking listener can just barely discern from those rare moments when he’s singing in English rather than French or Wolof. Fragments of sweet quick rapping here and there. Handsome voice. Startling falsetto.
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// Notes from the Road
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