Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to the Music of Nigeria and Ghana [World Music Network, 2002]
For a while I niggled my compilation niggles. Sunny Ade old-timers know, Tony Allen hipsters know, I've already recommended the albums whence spring the E.T. Mensah, Eric Agyeman, Stephen Osita Osadebe, and A.B. Crentsil tracks at the end, and it's quite a reach from highlife and juju of varying vintages to Adewale Ayuba's fuji drumming and Allen's Afrobeat abstractions. Soon enough, though, I was struck by how naturally it all held together, with a fundamental sound distinct from South Africa, Sahel, and the Congo nexus. Both rhythms and voices are lighter, and however much these pop styles emphasize showmanship and innovation, talky singing and associative structures impart a folk feel throughout. Thus they suggest an innocence and archaicism that need have nothing to do with their historical context or cultural intent. It's sound. And as such pure delight. A