"An outstanding triple bill of some of the most exciting African music around."
Below, one first article - from today's The Guardian - on this fantastic tour!!!
Taha tourne en Angleterre du 15 au 26 février sous le nom d'un projet intitulé "African Soul Rebels" où l'on trouve réunis Rachid Taha, Tinariwen* et Daara j. (10 concerts!!!)
"Une incroyable triple affiche qui réunit certains des personnages les plus intéressants de la musique africaine actuelle"
Voici ci-dessous un premier article (du Guardian d'aujourd'hui) sur cette super tournée!
*Tinariwen (Mali), Tuareg poet guitarists and founders of the legendary Festival in the Desert are riding high, just announced as winners of the 2005 BBC Radio 3 World Music Award (Africa), and with their CD Amassakoul gaining rave reviews for its hypnotic guitar-driven desert blues.
*Tinariwen (Mali): guitaristes poètes Touaregs, fondateurs du légendaire Festival du désert, préannoncés comme les futurs vainqueurs du prix de la BBC radio 3 de World Music (Afrique) avec leur CD Amassakoul: blues du désert basé sur guitare hypnotique.
**Hip hop and rap are big news in Africa, and there is no doubt that Daara J (Senegal), winners of last year's BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music (Africa), lead the way. They are the first African hip hop crew to be nominated for a MOBO award. Daara J's CD Boomerang catapulted them to fame, with acclaim as "one of the hip-hop albums of the century" The Observer. Their positive message and dynamic live appearances make them a force to be reckoned with.
**Daara J (Sénégal) ont gagné le prix BBC radio 3 World Music (Afrique) . Les premiers Africains hip hop nominés pour le prix MOBO. Grace à son CD Boomerang Daara J sont devenus populaires. L'Observer l' a qualifiés "l'un des albums hip hop du siècle" . Leur message positif et leurs shows dynamiques en font une force avec laquelle on va devoir compter.
Out of Africa
What are an Algerian punk, some Senegalese rappers and bluesmen who met in Gadafy's training camps doing in Poole?
Dorian Lynskey joins the African Soul Rebels tour
Thursday February 24, 2005 The Guardian
" 'Some people have to be pioneers'... African Soul Rebels: (from left) Daara J, Rachid Taha and Tinariwen On a soggy, grey February afternoon in Poole, the sands of the Sahara seem impossibly far away, but in room 325 of the Express Holiday Inn, Tinariwen are doing their best to create a home from home. A pot of intense, bittersweet Touareg tea is brewing on the table, a joint is smouldering pungently in the ashtray and a home video is playing on the TV.
The video documents the Touareg bluesmen's recent journey across the desert from their current home in Kidal, Mali, to their heartland in Tessalit on the Algerian border. To an outsider, many of the scenes look exotically ancient: a circle of women performing traditional Tindé music while camels sway drowsily along; looming boulders marked with millennia-old inscriptions; headscarved band members pitching camp beneath the stars. But one scene makes the kind of strange cross-cultural connections that have brought Tinariwen to Poole. While somebody sets about disembowelling a sheep carcass hanging from a tree, a high-pitched, distinctly non-African refrain drifts from the car radio: "It's just your jive talkin', you're telling me lies, yeah, jive talkin', you wear a disguise ..."
Tinariwen are in Poole as part of a 10-date regional tour of Britain, alongside Senegalese rappers Daara J (pronounced Daara G) and French-Algerian rock star Rachid Taha. Travelling under the banner of African Soul Rebels, the three acts are a jarringly eclectic mix - and deliberately so. Ian Ashbridge of Wrasse Records designed the package to attract newcomers who are curious, but not yet knowledgeable, about African music. "We really want to break the mould," he says. "World music is useful for retailers but it's quite a poison chalice. Tinariwen to me are a blues band, Daara J are a hip-hop act and Rachid Taha is a punk act. The fact they happen to sing in different languages is neither here nor there."
Rachid Taha's own assessment is brutally pragmatic. "African Soul Rebels means 'Come in large numbers'," he cackles. The tour started in Basingstoke, followed by Brighton and Bristol. Not all the shows have sold out but the crowds are enthusiastic and, as Ashbridge had hoped, much younger than the usual world-music aficionados.
So far, the bands have played without a hitch - but by Bristol, tourbus etiquette has become a real bone of contention. The clean-living, devoutly Muslim Daara J object to the other bands' chainsmoking, while they, in turn, have issues with Daara J's fondness for rap DVDs. A détente has been reached - no cigarettes, no hip-hop - but it appears rather fragile. "Clean-living?," huffs Taha's keyboardist Yves Aouizerate. "Snoop Dogg?" With typical Gallic understatement, he proceeds to mime anal sex while sucking on an invisible reefer, his eyes rolling incredulously.
The Bristol show underscores the differences between three bands united by little more than their continent of origin (and barely that - Taha has lived in France since he was 10). Tinariwen, swaddled in robes of sky-blue and olive-green, play mesmeric desert grooves, which sound at once alien and familiar: desolate, lonesome blues relocated from the Mississippi to the Niger. Daara J, outfitted in voluminous velvet sportswear, are effortlessly international. Like every rapper from New York to Nairobi, they bounce around the stage shouting: "Put your hands up!" Rampagingly energetic, by the end of the set they're running back and forth like the Three Stooges with their trousers on fire. "Bristol!" they bellow. "BRISTAAAAAAALLLLL!"
Taha, the tour's headliner, is less animated but no less riveting. A scowling, shambolic figure in sunglasses, beret and black leather trousers, he sings in a Gauloise-ravaged growl, like Serge Gainsbourg by way of John Lydon. His current signature tune is an exhilarating reading of the Clash's Rock the Casbah. Flipping the song on its axis, lyrically and sonically, it captures the whole ethos of the tour. In their Marlboro-fogged dressing room afterwards, Taha's band receive a surprise visit from Lucinda Strummer, Joe's widow, accompanied by film-maker Julien Temple and his wife Amanda. Strummer says how much Joe would have loved their version, but her French is even worse than Taha's English so the conversation brings back memories of particularly tortuous school French lessons.
"You live pres d'ici?" says Taha. "Oui," says Strummer. "Dans un chateau?" "Er, no. What's French for farm?" "Un farme," Amanda Temple says helpfully.
Taha was born in Oran, the birthplace of Algeria's traditional rai music, but raised in France, where he latched on to punk rock. "There's no contradiction because rai in its original form is pure rock'n'roll anyway," he says through a translator. Making short work of a bottle of wine and a packet of cigarettes, the stubbly 46-year-old cuts a raffish figure. He lopes slightly from a rare form of muscular dystrophy: not, as one paper recently alleged, a degenerative bone disease. In 1982, when the French National Front was first fulminating against north-African immigrants, he formed the topically named Carte de Séjour (Residence Permit). The same year he met Joe Strummer in a Paris club. "I've always wanted to do a cover of Rock the Casbah but I thought it would be too obvious. I changed the lyrics a bit. Instead of an Arab carrying a petrol can it's a Texan carrying a petrol can."
What did he make of the original lyrics? "It must be English humour. If a Frenchman had done it I would have said it was racist."
Taha shrugs off any suggestion that he represents north Africans ("it's not like the Olympics") but he speaks to their concerns. On the one hand he addresses French racism and American belligerence; on the other he calls for democracy and liberalism in the Arab world. "A lot of it is about my own culture. If you're not clean yourself you can't ask others to be clean."
The next morning we board the coach to Poole. As we drive through Bath, Tinariwen's manager, Andy Morgan, announces in French: "This is the most beautiful town in England." Aouizerate is unimpressed. "It looks like a barracks," he snorts. His bandmates roar with mirth. Three hours later, we reach our destination and Tinariwen crowd into original member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's room. With his moustache and inky mass of curls, Ag Alhabib resembles a Berber Phil Lynott. He started Tinariwen 25 years ago, in Tamanresset in southern Algeria, forging music in the fires of a turbulent era. During the 1960s, the nomadic Touaregs unsuccessfully rebelled against the government in Mali and fled into exile in Algeria. Subsequent drought and conflict shattered traditional Touareg society.
"We didn't know the blues at all until a few years ago but we did know the feelings of the blues - loss and nostalgia and exile," he says via Morgan. "We sang about the events of the 60s, the drought, and the situation in the desert. We were asking the question, What's going on here?"
Tinariwen (it means "deserts" in the Touaregs' Tamashek dialect) acquired more members while in Colonel Gadafy's training camps in the mid-1980s and their songs became protest anthems. The Touaregs mounted another rebellion against Mali, during which possession of a Tinariwen cassette was an imprisonable offence. There is video footage of Ag Alhabib shouldering a rocket launcher during the conflict, which lends a new dimension to the phrase "guerrilla gigging".
"During the rebellion, the musicians were also fighting," he explains. "There would be a skirmish and afterwards we would retreat into the desert with our friends, or go to a nomad camp, and play music. It was important to us."
After the Flame of Peace, the symbolic burning of weapons in Timbuktu in 1996, Tinariwen's lyrics became much less militant and more diverse. Now they are one of Mali's most lauded bands, and stars of the region's annual Festival in the Desert, which has attracted such high-profile celebrity fans as Robert Plant and Damon Albarn.
In Tinariwen's dressing room at the Poole Lighthouse, the band's label manager, David Jaymes, tells me that they are set to penetrate world music's glass ceiling. Their most recent album, Amassakoul, has already sold 15,000 copies.
I think some of the barriers are coming down," he says. "It's not just a minority interest. It could be a mainstream album."
World music's bona fide success stories - Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Buena Vista Social Club - are few and far between. Most acts, says Ashbridge, can expect a few plays on Radio 3 and the occasional show at the Royal Festival Hall, but he thinks a change in perception is just around the corner. "Our job is to expose the music to as wide a number of people as possible. It's a bit like throwing stones in a pond. It goes in ripples." Down the corridor, over plates of chilli, Daara J discuss their own glass ceiling. Although they are not the first Senegalese rappers (that honour goes to 1980s veterans Positive Black Soul), they are currently the biggest and slickest.
Language aside (they rap in French and Wolof), there is no reason they could not be mainstream international stars - but it is not that simple. "Some people have to be the pioneers," says the eloquent, dreadlocked Faada Freddy. "It might take some time. People will get bored hearing the same old rhythms, the same old rhymes. The Africans have a story to tell, and it's important in the rap game to have a story to tell."
Daara J's current album, Boomerang, takes its name from the idea that rap had its roots in Africa, flowered in America and is now returning home. When hip-hop first reached Senegal, says Freddy, people heard it as a variation on the oral tradition of tasso. The rhythms of Senegal's different tribes, meanwhile, overlap with funk and Jamaican music. But Freddy is keen to emphasise that African rappers have a very different lyrical agenda.
"What is important in American hip-hop is consciousness but the other side - bling-blinging, violence, gangsta - is not what interests Africans. We need more to develop ourselves than to get involved in gangsta games."
In the 2000 presidential election, which ended the 20-year rule of Abdou Diouf, Daara J mobilised voters and helped write opposition speeches. Now they continue to rail against corruption and mass unemployment. "We talk for the voiceless. Hip-hop is as strong as politics in Senegal." Never short of a soundbite, Freddy takes an idealistic view of the African Soul Rebels project.
"You are reminded of how deep and how large African culture is," he says, beaming. "Africa has been divided for so long. Where politics has not succeeded in bringing Africans together, music has."
And only cigarettes and hip-hop DVDs can tear them apart. "