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Album Review

As vast as Africa is, it stands to reason that the continent would offer a diversity of pop music. Those who've listened to mostly soukous or zouk might think of African pop as exuberant, fast and hyper, but those whose only exposure to African music was contemporary Ethiopian pop might think of Afro-pop as moody and dusky. Reflective and folk-like, Habib Koite's Ma Ya is a far cry from African dance music. In 1998, the expressive Malian singer/guitarist enjoyed a lot of exposure in both Africa and Europe with Ma Ya, which didn't come out in the U.S. until early 1999. Backed by his band, Bamada, Koite is expressive and evocative on originals such as "Kumbin," "Wassive" and "Foro Bana." You might not understand the lyrics that Koite is singing, but it's obvious that he brings a lot of feeling and charisma to them.

Customer Reviews

"I like technology... but I fear for our forests"

I love the way he sings those lyrics about technology. Puts a smile on my face. A caring spirit, a very cool guy, unique style of guitar.

Biography

Born: 1958 in Mali

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The West African country of Mali has produced some great musicians. But as they age, people have wondered who'll step forward from the next generation. The big answer to that seems to be Habib Koité, who comes from the Khassonké griot tradition, that's the hereditary caste of musicians, but whose eyes are firmly on the future. Born in 1958, his lineage made music a part of his life and it was in order to accompany his mother's singing that he taught himself to play guitar, showing enough ability...
Full bio
Ma Ya, Habib Koité
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Contemporaries