Pape Cheikh Diouf & La Generation Consciente All Ages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sat., July 16, 9 p.m. 2016

The great Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, long entrenched as an international superstar who’s experimented with fusions both compelling (his embrace of Arabic classical music on Egypt) and tedious (his dalliance with reggae on Dakar-Kingston), now serves as his homeland’s minister of tourism. He made his name as the greatest exponent of mbalax, a hard-hitting, homegrown style marked by frenetic, convulsing beats played on sabar drums (the local variant on Nigerian talking drums) and featuring massive loping grooves, high-velocity arpeggios articulated on electric guitar or keyboards, and soaring vocals that derive their deep-seated power from the cries of a muezzin. In recent years, though, Pape Cheikh Diouf has stepped up to inherit the throne. Since he started making records in the late 90s, his popularity has grown steadily, and though he lacks the innovation N’Dour, his voice is a marvel. The production on his most recent album, Ràkkaaju (Prince Arts), isn’t especially compelling—surging sabar beats are surrounded by synthesizers, the occasional kora lick, and distant harmony singing—but that only makes Diouf’s powerful sound more impressive. Still, records are no way to enjoy the unique thrill of mbalax. This rare Chicago performance is exciting—the blur of movement during a live show is as heart-stopping as anything in music. —

Peter Margasak

Price: $30, $28 members

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