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Smod are a Malian rap trio whose music is anchored by acoustic guitar as much as by programmed rhythms. Their songs have a lilting groove recognizable to fans of Malian music (Amadou & Mariam and Touré Kunda are clear progenitors), and the production on this, their third album, is by Manu Chao, which adds a sort of pan-global hippie atmosphere (and some organ, on tracks like the propulsive "Dakan"). They rap sometimes, sing other times, and combine the two frequently; their harmonies are clean and quite beautiful and soothing, perfect for listening in hot weather. Lyrically speaking, if you don't understand French, you're out of luck -- there are no concessions made to an English-language audience. But from a purely musical standpoint, Smod is excellent, avoiding the crunchy-granola feel of the Putumayo school of world music while proving that hip-hop is both global and almost universally adaptable. This is the kind of album that drifts by like a lazy white cloud on a beautiful summer day, leaving only positive feelings in its wake.

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