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SMOD release debut album out 30th May

March 23, 2011 by  

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SMOD release debut album out 30th May

Single “Ca Chante” out 16th May, produced by Manu Chao
Live at The Mosaiques Festival, London, 3rd June

Malian rappers SMOD release their eponymously-titled, debut album through Because Music on 30th May. Produced by Manu Chao, the album was recorded at Amadou & Mariam’s home in Bamako. The first single from the album, ‘Ça Chante’, will be released digitally on the 16th May. The band will make their first UK appearance at this year’s Mosaiques Festival in London on 3rd June.

“Africa needs to speak out right now,” says Ousco calmly over a crackling phone line from Bamako. “Africa must stop crying.” His words are a neat little summary of what African rap is all about: No mincing words or metaphors. No ancient musical traditions that cosy up to power. No decadent ghetto fabulous fantasies. None of that. Just plain words about the simple truth that everyone can see out of his or her window. “Africa is hungry, OK?” Ousco continues. “In Europe and America, people eat so as not to feel hungry. In Africa, people eat when they’re hungry. Everything is very very different, you know?”

Ousco is the ‘O’ in SMOD, a trio of hard working musician MCs from Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa. He met Donsky, the ‘D’ in the name, Mouzy and Sam at the Lycée Biya, a progressive high school in the Sogoniko district of the city. The four friends were fans of hip-hop but that was nothing special. Everyone below a certain age in Bamako was falling in love with hip-hop back in the late 1990s, along with the rest of Mali, and Africa for that matter. “Tupac Amaru Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G, The Roots, 113…they were our idols,” Ousco explains. The new rap sounds came in through the few liberal cracks in Mali’s media and cultural landscape, like the pioneering show ‘Generation 21′ on the national state TV channel ORTM, the radical Radio Kayira…’The Radio Station of the Voiceless’, or foreign channels like Black TV, M6 and NRJ.

Sam, Ousco, Donsky and Mouzy hung out in Faladié, one of Bamako’s most happening hoods, with its immense market and inexhaustible street-level energy. A year after forming SMOD, Mouzy cut loose and left for Europe like so many other Malians of his age. Sam, Dronsky and Ousco found space to rehearse in the house of Sam’s parents, who happened to be the imminently world famous blind Malian couple Amadou & Mariam. “We got together there every evening, in ‘seventh heaven’, on my parents’ roof,” Sam recounts. “That terrace has always been our place of creation, of inspiration.” The trio were grafters right from the start. Sam says that hard work was the most important lesson his parents ever taught him. “Music is a tough career. Nothing is ever preordained and you have to persevere.”SMOD got to know Manu Chao up on the roof, in the balmy air of the African night, above the raucous hubbub of the streets. He was in Bamako in 2005 to record the hit album ‘Dimanche à Bamako’ with Sam’s parents. One evening, when most of the household were already in bed, Sam found Manu strumming his guitar down in the house, so he invited him up. Manu was charmed by these three hard-working dreamers, with their radical lyrics that reminded him so much of his own. Being a night owl, Chao spent most of the following evenings up top, buzzing on tea, chatting, jamming and minting new friendships. Manu came back six months later and recorded SMOD with his little portable studio, up on their roof, or down in the house.



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