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Ma Yela

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Album Review

The initial big news about this record was the fact that it was produced by Manu Chao, one of the hottest names in world music. But this time around, Chao has kept himself out of the proceedings, allow Akli D to shine, while keeping a light hand on the controls so the music flows with an easy smoothness. Although this is, at heart, Kabelye music from Algeria, there are plenty of outside influences in the sound, both from France (evident on "C. Facile") or even reggae — which pervades much of the album, both subtly and overtly — just listen to the bassline on "Achu Ayen," for instance. What's interesting is that although Akli D isn't an especially distinctive singer, the album becomes more than the sum of its parts, with excellent imaginative arrangements and some great, addictive songs. Part of the credit goes to Chao, who pulled everything together in the studio, but also to Akli D, whose star quality is greater than his voice. For all its cosmopolitan leanings (Ma Yela sounds almost Celtic in places), a Maghrebi heart beats at the center of this, with the singer bouncing quite merrily over the tunes. It may be early days, but he has the sound and feel of someone who could be a big, big star.


Born: Kerouan

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Recording artist Akli D is one of his generation's leading folk heroes, mixing the North African music of his upbringing with a variety of world genres, including blues, reggae, and more. Born Akli Dehlis in the village of Kerouan, Akli was surrounded by the music of his native Berber people, the pre-Arab inhabitants of the southern Mediterranean coastline. His mother a folksinger, Akli took to music naturally. He began synthesizing his loves for the music of his heritage, and the music he heard...
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Ma Yela, Akli D
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