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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Maga Bo

By Doug Merlino
Published October 23, 2008


Born in America and now based in Brazil, producer Maga Bo brought his laptop and microphones to Africa, set up in cheap hotel rooms, and invited local artists to add instrumentation and vocals. The result was a dense blast of beats, rhymes and collected sounds ­ hip-hop, North African-inflected strings, kora, stuttering beats, talking drum, oud, bass rumblings, and rapping in Arabic, Wolof, English and French all collide into a pan-African mash up that sounds like it boiled straight up from the streets of Dakar, Zanzibar, Casablanca and Cape Town. It works remarkably well, a relentless collision of styles that brings to mind the DIY energy of early punk rock and hip-hop. Most impressive is his ability to seamlessly mesh strands of traditional music with modern rhythms and hip-hop. He has turned out an album both completely original as well as utterly catchy.