Various Artists

African Underground Vol. 1 -- Hip-Hop Senegal (Nomadic Wax)

This disc of Senegalese hip-hop won't change your life. For one thing, you don't understand Wolof, the African nation's native tongue. Even if you did, the highly political raps that most African MCs drop (we're taking the press kit's word on this one) are about issues that you can't even begin to get your head around.

No, African Underground won't change your life. But it will change any drive you take, any party you hold, any moment you put it on. Both instantly recognizable and deeply foreign, Senegalese hip-hop is a warped mirror of our current musical culture. The disc opens with the massive energy of BMG's "44." What's it like? Imagine if they listened to crunk in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi. Hell yes.

This hip-hop may be from another continent, but it still shares some of American hip-hop's problems: Namely, it's overstuffed. Still, African Underground Vol. 1 could be the party disc of the fall. Here's hoping Volume 2 is just as fascinating, and it isn't just the novelty that makes it so much fun.

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