Monique Séka


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With Jacob Desvarieux from Kassav at the arrangement helm, this album has the zouk stamp all over it. It also has the pan-African Paris-produced sound that is, at its best, some of the best music on the planet. However, this formulaic sound tends to get repetitive as on several cuts on this release. The production is good and the backing musicians and vocalists are the best in the African-Caribbean music scene. Monique Seka's voice sparkles and floats over the basslines, but no new ground is broken here and the brilliance and strength of Okaman is not matched. Yelele is an expression that translates roughly as "You can do what you like but you won't get your way. You will try in vain." It is addressed to the youth that waste their time on pomp and show. There's a message here of hope versus despair and delinquency. The title track is straight out zouk and cuts a decent groove. "Kondro" is zouk too, but more infectious. The traditional song "Ami O is given a techno-house treatment, but can't touch the original by Bebe Manga of Cameroon. The Congolese-influenced "Kin la Belle" is sung in Lingala. "Deini Deini" is done in the Ashanti tongue. "Missounwa da Cuba" is the original salsa-fied. The original "Missounwa" by Seka, done in 1989, is the one you want to seek out. Manu Lima's arrangements and synthesized tweaks on "Okaman" and "Missounwa" marry with Seka's voice and seem to work better than on this album. Many tongues are represented on this album, but it is somewhat diluted by trying to take in too much musical scope.

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