Various Artists

Baila Habibi, Vol. 4

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The Mediterranean has become one of the hotbeds of music in recent years, with some very adventurous sounds being made all around the Middle Sea. You can find some of them here, like Barrio del Rio's Spanish hip-hop on "Onda Buena." You'll find plenty of dancefloor beats and thumping bass working alongside traditional melodies and rhythms. Sometimes it works well -- Emrah's "Yallah" is superb. At other times the music is an embarrassment, like Pedram & Margaritta's "Ba To Mimoonam," an absolutely appalling cover version of a well-known song that deserves to remain anonymous. As much as this shows how traditional musics are being reinvented everywhere, it offers the idea that the beat, bass, and samples are an international language, and that it's up to each artist's imagination as to how good or bad that might be. In spite of the title, not everything here has a strong Arab inflection; in fact, the best tracks are those that don't aim directly for the Middle East but stay close to home.

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