Music Reviews

Global Soul

Various Artists

Putumayo

Funking in a post-disco hangover, the early ’80s shuffled R&B off to the “urban” radio stations, refusing to play it on pop radio, MTV, or anything that flowed mainstream. And hip-hop couldn’t even be played on “urban” stations. Twenty years later, both R&B and rap are pop and hard to escape – whether you’re in Sacramento, Sao Paolo, or Seoul. Global Soul is a testament to the triumph of R&B (and the telecommunications “revolution” that is swiftly homogenizing the planet). The groove is now global; and, while most folks still can’t flow, a lot of people do actually have soul. And this compilation is a grand sampling of the funky stuff spreading around the world. Believe it or not, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Tanzania, Cameroon, and South Korea (that’s right) are all represented here.

France’s Doc Gynéco flows with Serge-smooth rhymes on “Caramel”; Kaissa (Cameroon) throws down some hip-hop soul with a Zap Mama twist; Italy’s Traccia Mista sounds a bit like Plastina Mosh; and nothing’s smoother than Senegal’s Saf Sap. Speech and Neneh Cherry even appear with one of the better songs of either of their lackluster careers, “Braided Hair.” And Germany/South Africa’s Joy Denalane wants oh-so-desperately to be Mary J. Blige.

With Global Soul Putumayo has assembled a fine compilation that will satisfy both world music and R&B fans with a sense of adventure. May cultural imperialism continue to flourish!

Putumayo Records: http://www.putumayo.com


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