Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate – Faya

-Greg’s Take-

Un jour en Afrique, il n’y aura pas de frontiers.
-Sekou Kouyate & Joe Driscoll

With all of the constant agendas, issues (political or otherwise), drama and needless news at your fingertips it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the world beyond your own borders. Funny thing borders; they’re man-made and strictly adhered to, seemingly without question.

Via Faya, Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate ignore all boundaries and cast a spell that is as grand as an Aurora and equally captivating. The duo combine English and French to weave elaborate and all too consuming rhymes and beats that are as heavy in bass as they are in message.  When all is said and done you won’t be able to delineate between that of lyrical and instrumental brilliance and that of the underlying message.

Faya is a struggle to categorize. Sure it could be called international hip-hop, but this isn’t MC Solaar. It could fall under the “World Music” category but this isn’t throat singing to classic TV show themes. Instead, the record takes shape around hip-hop almost reggae tendencies and the most impressive kora playing to ever grace this fan’s ears. I would not be remiss to say that Sekou Kouyate is like Steve Vai on the kora.

Together Kouyate and Driscoll are unstoppable. To pick a single great track from the album is like trying to accurately pick the end score of each match in the World Cup; there are simply too many.  For mainstream consumption and to impress your friends go with “Passport.” The catchy lyrics and tight rhythms get your blood flowing. For a more intellectual take-away go with “Tanama.” The opening track challenges the fallacy of the world’s boarders; which is a contributor to underlying theme of a certain level of freedom throughout. The title-track dishes up a slight funky sense as the grooves give a platform to Driscoll’s MC dynamics. It is nearly impossible to not get sucked into “Lady.” Between that and “Birnakely,” the shredding kora dominates the electric guitar like the guitar is some antiquated instrument.  Of the ten tracks, you’re sure to find at least a few favorites.

It takes a certain testicular fortitude to step up and speak so boldly and directly about real world issues, but for Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate that comes as naturally as their electric compositions. There are a plethora of reasons why you should listen to Faya, whether it be the genre bending splices in instrumentals, the most amazing use of kora you’ll experience or the almost reggae delivery of eclectic hip-hop, the border-breaking formula of this album is as profound as the message itself.