Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang

  • En Yay Sah [Luaka Bop, 2012] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

En Yay Sah [Luaka Bop, 2012]
Before he left a war-wrecked Sierra Leone in 2002, Nabay made a name for himself by "modernizing" a Temne music called bubu. Maybe that just means electrifying, maybe more; in either case, this version suggests minimalist juju, only juju singing tends mellow where Nabay's vocals have a near-spoken roughness, with crucial melodic counterpoint from Boshra Alsaadi's sweet soprano. Translations provided notwithstanding, half the songs are basically grooves, with keyboard, guitar, bass, and electric drums all manned by Brooklyn hipsters of some renown. But these grooves vary structurally--hooked by a bass drone, an insistent drum pattern, some fetching keyb. And they always move. Given how stiffly white guys usually execute African beats, Brooklyn should be proud. A-