Album: Smod, Smod (Because Music)

Smod (the acronym stands for their names Sam, Ousco, Dronsky and former member Mouzy) are a rap group from Bamako whose third album – the first to receive a UK release – is produced by Manu Chao, who first met the group when he was working on Dimanche à Bamako, by Sam's parents Amadou & Mariam.

As on A&M's albums, he's captured the trio's charm and lightness of spirit within infectious grooves built around Sam's cyclical acoustic guitar riffs, with the individual raps supported by their warm, uplifting harmonies. Subjects covered include, as far as my O-level French can discern: the need to reconcile the old culture with the future; the habits of African rulers; whether problems are all in one's head; and how the sight of young girls makes them think of their own youth. Already!

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