Global Hip-Hop

Various Artists

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Global Hip-Hop Review

by Richie Unterberger

The 14 tracks from the late '90s and early 2000s on this CD testify to the growth of hip-hop as a worldwide culture. Few are from North America or the U.K., the nations represented including Senegal, France, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Mali, France, South Africa, Tanzania, and even Greece. And even the stray cuts from the U.S. and U.K. make heavy use of ethnic sounds, with Los Angeles act Delinquent Habits' "Return of the Tres" bearing a heavy Mexican influence and the British performers mixing in some Indian and African elements. The collection functions as more than a mere cultural document, however. For while much hip-hop can be fairly criticized as derivative and homogenous, the presence of performers from so many countries ensures not only more variety than most hip-hop comps, but also multiple flavors of hip-hop/world music fusion that even seasoned hip-hop specialists might find novel and refreshing. Some of the better instances worthy of citation are Delinquent Habits' mariachized rapping; the high-paced Turkish beats of Sultan Tunc's "Deliloy"; the Senegalese Daara J's "Esperanza," which is about as melodic as hip-hop gets, also putting some Latin-Cuban spice into the stew; the salsa-ized hip-hop of Snido Acido's "El Cantante"; and 113's "Voix du Mali," with a featured vocalist by the only artist on the album with something of an international profile, Oumou Sangare. For English-speaking listeners, a potential handicap is that language barriers will prevent comprehension of many of the lyrics (sometimes the performers even switch back and forth between English and another tongue in the same song), though the barrier-testing eclecticism compensates for that loss.

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