Various Artists

Reggae over Africa

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The genesis of reggae began when African slaves were brought to the Caribbean islands. They comforted themselves in affliction and maintained their identity by fostering their musical traditions. As time went on, their descendants added on sounds gleaned from elsewhere in the African Diaspora, including R&B, soul, jazz, and assorted Latin traditions. In Jamaica, reggae even took on a religious significance due to the emergence of the Rastafarian faith, which taught that Africa was both the devotees' spiritual birthplace and future homeland. Once the music of Bob Marley and his compatriots had made the journey back to Africa, the circle was complete. It was inevitable that musicians from the continent would be attracted to reggae's fierce down-slashing rhythms, buoyant melodies, and conscious lyrics and adapt it to address their own concerns. This 2000 compilation provides a fine overview, with Baaba Maal (Senegal) performing a tasty sabar-flavored romp and Sally Nyolo (Cameroon) mixing in her native bikutsi triple rhythms. There are a few major omissions, such as the Ivorian phenomenon Alpha Blondy and emerging stars like Ghana's Rocky Dawuni. North African musicians have produced a bumper crop of compelling reggae tunes, as have various Congolese and Nigerian icons. It might have been a better move to cover some of these acts instead of using three tracks by Lucky Dube. Also, while the liner notes mention the nationalities of the bandleaders, they do not list the rest of the personnel or describe their backgrounds. This is a bit of a problem, as there are several pan-cultural crossover tracks included in the lineup.

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