Afro-pop star Angelique Kidjo's last album of the 1990s was her best yet. Titled Oremi, which means "friends," her fifth album was a tour de force with many great collaborations, including hip-hop star Kelly Price ("Open Your Eyes"), Robbie Neville, Cassandra Wilson (the duet "Never Know"), and Branford Marsalis. The first CD in a proposed "American" trilogy, Oremi explores the connections between African music and R&B. The album begins with a reinterpretation of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child," perhaps the best cover of his material ever. Oremi, however, is not simply a stylistic album; higher consciousness and political sentiments are here too, especially with the impassioned plea in "Babalao" to care for the world's youth. This album is Angelique Kidjo's strongest, most inspired one, but her mainstream stylistic choices opened her up to criticism for being too "pop" and not "African" enough. Such comments are truly unfounded. Oremi is sexy, thrilling, and powerful. One of the best albums in the genre. A good place to start for someone beginning to listen to world music.
by JT Griffith