Like Sean Lennon and Rufus Wainwright, this African rap trio owe much to ma and pa — singer-guitarist Sam Bagayoko's parents are Malian pop stars Amadou & Mariam. Through them, the group met polyglot pop scientist Manu Chao, who produced SMOD's third record. SMOD carries Chao's signature psychedelic bounce: bulbous reggae bass lines, one-note melodies, dubby chants, video-game sound effects. The album brings Bagayoko's gorgeous West African-style guitar work (unsurprising, given dad's masterful chops) and a sweet French flow. U.S. fans may not understand a word beyond the "Yes!" shouted out repeatedly on "Les Dirigeants Africains." But musically, that sentiment pretty much sums it up.
Listen to "Les Dirigeants Africains":
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