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  Listen Up! 5/27/02 Listen Up!

Monday, May 27

Various Artists, ďAfrica Raps,Ē Trikont Records. It stands to reason that African youth would dig hip-hop just like everybody else does, but Iím still surprised at how cool this compilation is. If you pick it up, go straight to cut number twelve, a group called Tata Pounda doing a song called ďBadala.Ē Itís infectious, propulsive, very African sounding in the rhythm department, with a catchy-as-hell hook chorus, and rapid-fire rhythmically inventive rapping. But, everything here is cool, whether itís the unusual samples drawn from sources we donít know, or the lilting Malian live musicians on a couple cuts at the beginning. The cuts are all taken from Senegal, Mali, and the Gambia, and the music is fabulous.

Counting Crows, ďHard Candy,Ē Geffen Records. These guys were so huge a few years ago, and their old stuff still gets tons of airplay on the radio. But, I canít expect this album to sell, despite the fact that itís every bit as good, and maybe even better, than anything theyíve done before. Really, Counting Crows craft songs so well, with interesting melodies, lots of verbiage that always turns out to be interesting when I get around to hearing it, and strong, mid-tempo rhythms. Itís all a matter of timing. Seven years ago, there could have been three or four huge hits from this album.

--Steve Pick



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