Imagine a place where musicians of Arabic descent listen to everything from Middle Eastern singers to hip-hoppers who rap in French -- a place where young Arabs hold Destiny's Child and Cheb Mami in equally high regard. This place is called Paris. France's largest city is quite a melting pot, and you could write a book about all of the Arabic musicians who live and/or record there. Seba's Ewa! is very much a reflection of the multiculturalism that exists in modern Paris; the lyrics are in both Arabic and French, and, musically, this sleek CD owes as much to Europe and North America as it does to North Africa and the Middle East. The six members of Seba (all of them brothers) are residents of Paris' suburbs, but their family is originally from Algeria -- the North African country that produced that funky east/west hybrid known as rai. On Ewa!, North African rhythms are right at home with elements of funk, dance-pop, hip-hop, and reggae. One of the tunes, "Chouft," finds the Seba siblings adding Spanish nuevo flamenco to the mix. Ewa! is unpredictable and adventurous, but it also organic and logical -- not forced or pretentious. Although not recommended to Arabic purists, this CD is quite an adventure if you have a taste for modern Algerian pop.
by Alex Henderson