London Ko

London Ko

Ivorian-born Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara’s soothing, Grammy-nominated vocals have continued the magic of Malian music traditions since her debut, 2011’s Fatou. By staying close to her Wassoulou music style origins, the supremely cool superstar retains her pan-Africanness, but manages to incorporate new influences on her fourth studio album, London Ko. On "Nsera", shadows of Afrobeat icons Tony Allen and Fela Kuti grease the wheels for their fellow West African, who sings mesmerisingly in Bambara to open the show. English singer-songwriter Damon Albarn features here, while Ghanaian rapper M.anifest appears on “Mogokan”—reuniting Diawara with two of her collaborators from the 2012 Afrobeat album, Rocket Juice and the Moon. Elswhere, Cuban jazz pianist Robert Fonseca (”Blues”), African-American vocalist Angie Stone (“Somaw”) and Nigerian songstress Yemi Alade (“Tolon”) complete the clan with assured guest performances. Across the album, experiments with Afrofunk and jazz cement Diawara's status as an unmistakable genre-bender whose sound is nearly unclassifiable. But "Maya", a soulful ode that evokes memories of Fatou as it closes out the album, is a timely reminder that she is undeniable music royalty.

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