Was able to give a little personal perspective on Dakar, Senegal in an album review of Aby Ngana Diop’s “Liital,” for Bomb Magazine’s Fall 2014 issue:
A couple years later, I would visit Dakar for the first time, and it became one of my favorite cities in the world. Everyone from rural migrants, to Parisian vacationers, to Harlem-born Senegalese diaspora returnees brings their own taste and flavor to the bustling metropolis. The resulting cultural production out of the town is mind blowing. Take a ride down the TGV in a cab with a Wolof-speaking driver, whom you may communicate with in broken half-French. He may be playing Islamic prayer tapes, or local Galsene hip-hop variations … or you’ll hear the latest pop dance hits in the form of mbalax music: the exciting fast-paced fusion between Afro-Cuban rumba and Senegalese drumming like sabar and tama—traditional styles with layered high-toned drums played at up to 180 beats per minute. Mbalax is Senegalese national identity, a product of African independence and negritude philosophy birthed from the consciousness sparked by Senghor and Césaire. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Dakar, you’ll see it in every setting: the street, the club, the taxis, wrestling matches, at house parties. It’s also carried far and wide by an extensive Senegalese diaspora to places like Harlem, Paris, Barcelona, and San Francisco.