Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Faudel: Baïda [Mondo Melodia, 2001]
Beautiful voices mean less than beautiful records, so no wonder this second-generation Algerian-Parisian with the tenor in his pants became a star when his 1997 debut blew up. Cut before he was 20 and just released here, it's as shameless as Shakira. The rai hooks aren't always rendered on authentic instruments, which in rai I guess means electric guitar, but the synth tootles and buzzes feed the tune-at-all-costs abandon. This is the Faudel they call "the little prince of rai," throwing all of his toys on the floor at once. The one they call "the Julio Iglesias of rai" got the next album, which came out first here. Super salsa, kid, and I know there's only one "N'Sel Fik." But why not another "version hip hop"? A-