Askia Modibo is the most significant African reggae musician to emerge internationally within the past five years. With a unique sound, top musicians, and potent lyrics, Askia and his nine piece band have gained much acclaim - first in Mali, next in Paris, and now finally in America. His current CD release, Wass Reggae on the Sterns Africa label, is an instant classic, and warrants listening by anyone remotely concerned with the future of roots reggae. Askia’s immaculate ear for musical fusion allows Wass Reggae to breach the gap between the African and American Continents. The result is a hypnotic collection of songs that combine West Africa’s pentatonic musical structure with the latest in lush and progressive reggae. Reggae enthusiasts are increasingly turning towards reggae emanating from the African Continent due to their desire for a larger and more fulfilling sound. The key to African reggae is that its ensembles are often full orchestras which include a core band along with a horn section and choral call and response arrangements. According to Askia, Wass Reggae’s cultural blending is first rate. It embodies the spirit of a disenchanted youth with a sound that is pentatonic, [combining] the music of the Songhai, the Tamachek, Wassoulou, Bambara... His own impassioned singing, in the soaring yet rough style of Mali’s Wassoulou tradition, contrasts with richly layered backgrounds, tight horn riffs and slithery female backed vocals. Lead guitarists Yves Ndjock,...
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