Alpha Blondy

Radical Roots from the Emperor of African Reggae

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This 18-track compilation is a good summary of Alpha Blondy's recording career through the early 21st century, spanning about 20 years and drawing in roughly equal measures from the albums he issued between the early '80s and early 2000s. In fact, for fans who have strong opinions about what constitutes his best work, it might be too evenly balanced, taking just one or two songs apiece from numerous releases (though Merci is represented by three cuts). It does, however, give listeners a good idea of what Alpha Blondy's about, his multilingualism encompassing songs in French and English, his brand of reggae informed but not dominated by African and rock influences. Whatever language he sings in, however, politics are rarely off his radar, addressing apartheid (in "Apartheid in Nazism," one of his most celebrated works), imperialism ("Super Powers"), African pride ("God Bless Africa"), and war and violence ("La Guerre," "Bloodshed in Africa," and "Coup d'État").

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