Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
115

Various Artists: Drop the Debt

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count Views
Various Artists: Drop the Debt Ostensibly aimed at improving the infrastructure and efficiency of third world economies, international moneylenders directed poor countries toward debt in the '70s. The optimism and theoretical benefit of these money transfers ended up far outweighed by their costs in terms of misdirection, disorganization, and corruption (witness the price personally extracted by Suharto in Indonesia).

At this point, African countries spend a frightening 38% of their budget on debt service. That, of course, comes at the cost of social services and the scale of government involvement that's absolutely required for further development. Africa is not a rich continent.

Drop The Debt addresses this reality through a series of 16 inspired songs specifically collected for this purpose. Most of the artists hail from Africa and South America, though France and Japan also join the list. The music tends toward popular adaptations of traditional styles.

Tiken Jah Fakoly of the Ivory Coast meets up with Brazil's Tribo de Jah "Baba" for a bizarrely transcultural fusion of African rhythm, Jamaican reggae, and slippery Brazilian vocals. The message is direct: "Our parents live in poverty/Our parents die in poverty." You wouldn't necessarily expect the combination to work but it does, brilliantly.

Other highlights (mostly on the front end) include the jumpy raps of the Brazillian/French fusion "Il Faut Payer" ("It's difficult to say who owes whom what today"); the textured rhythms and high-flying horns of Columbia's Totó la Momposin ("Today, the people are forgotten"); the ancient/future collision of Cameroon's Sally Nyolo and Japan's Shingo2 ("As long as I live to give/They'll write my name on the list to receive"); and a insanely groovy minimalist jam from Brazil's Lenine ("Dolorous dollars").

Low points (mostly toward the tail end) include a overproduced, cliché ballad from Africa South ("The third world cries every day") and a dull rock collage from France's Massilia Sound System ("Those who put us into debt have been gambling"). They are far outnumbered by the rest, have no fear.

The message of Drop The Debt is compelling—some times more than others, admittedly—but it's more than matched by the inspiration of the artists involved. The emotional, musical, and linguistic variation here has few parallels. It's an inspiring statement about the state of the art in third world music, which has many lessons to teach the staid first world variety.

Visit World Village on the web.


Track Listing: Baba / Tiken Jah Fakoly (Ivory Coast) & Tribo de Jah (Brazil); Quem pode / Teofilo Chantre & Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde); Il faut payer/Devo e năo nego (Payment is due) / Chico Cesar (Brazil) & the Fabulous Trobadors (France); Tudo vale a pena / Fernanda Abreu & MV Bill (Brazil); Cosas pa' pensar / Totó la Momposina (Colombia); Boor-yi / El Hadj N'Diaye (Senegal); Cadeau empoisonne (Poisoned chalice) / Zedess (Burkina Faso); Assez (Enough) / Meiway (Ivory Coast); Osca Sankara / Massilia Sound System (France); Tilma (remix) / Sally Nyolo (Cameroon) & Shingo2 (Japan); The Third World cries everyday / Africa South (South Africa); Rosebud (previously unreleased version) / Lenine (Brazil); Bana / Faya Tess & Lokua Kanza (Congo); Murimi munhu / Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe); Argent trop cher (Money's too expensive) / Tarace Boulba (Fra nce) & Ablaye Mbaye (Senegal); Gracias a la vida / Soledad Bravo (Venezuela).

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: World Village | Style: Beyond Jazz


CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Tanbou Toujou Lou: Merengue, Kompa Kreyou, Vodou Jazz & Electric...
Tanbou Toujou Lou:...
Ostinato Records
2016
buy
The Boston Creative Jazz Scene 1970-1983
The Boston Creative...
Cultures Of Soul Records
2016
buy
Hungarian Noir
Hungarian Noir
Piranha
2016
buy
The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River
The New Basement...
Harvest Records
2015
buy
I Never Meta Guitar Three
I Never Meta Guitar...
Clean Feed Records
2015
buy
Peru Boom: Bass, Bleeps & Bumps from Peru's Electronic Underground
Peru Boom: Bass,...
Tiger's Milk
2015
buy

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.