Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Aby Ngana Diop: Liital [Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2014]
In 2010, I was lucky enough to hear music like this at 3 a.m. in a rundown Koranic school cum social club north of Dakar--a woman named Khady Mboup bellowing and expostulating over two xalams, four sabar/tama drums, a plastic washtub, and a female sidekick as three or four dozen paying customers came back at her with impossibly athletic dancing. It was so unrelenting I figured it couldn't translate to record. Yet the YouTube I've found on Mboup is supper-club stuff compared to this 1994 barrage from a long-gone heroine of a female griot rap poetry called taasu. Four drummers and a drum programmer provide the instrumentation, three subsidiary female vocalists respond in unison to her call, and for half an hour the onslaught never lets up. Diop's voice is pitched high for something so powerful, intense, and conversational. It gets hard to take without dance accompaniment after three tracks or so, and although to non-Wolof speakers it's of a piece, the opening "Dieuleul-Dieuleul" tends to dwarf and subsume the five equally tuneless songs/poems/tracks that recapitulate. But it's also almost otherworldly, with an energy that reminds me of great hardcore, Minor Threat or Bad Brains. Stop, please stop. No, keep going. A-