Voice Of The Jeli - Gokh-Bi System
A recent newspaper editorial commented on the wretched excess of rapper Plies (during Plies Week in Tampa where he literally threw money around ... lots of it). It reaffirmed my suspicions that American hip hop has lost its cause, lost its way and lost any shred of credibility. It doesn't matter how many blood diamond-encrusted medallions these preening egomaniacs wear, they still shine like a cheap suit. Switch the scene from Tampa, FLA to Guinaw Rails, Senegal, an impoverished suburb of Dakar and epicentre of the Sene-rap scene, where urban music still has relevance as a voice of the people. The four members of Gokh-Bi System (Go - Bee) were molten in this crucible before coming to America. There latest album, 'Voice of the Jeli' (or griot) pays forward the oral tradition of tassu which the Jeli used to spread the news and probably represents the original root of rap music. Songs like Musica del Mundo, Mama Afrika and Palestine take on very real issues of war,poverty and misogyny with unflagging compassion and musicality. Embellishments of Caribbean pan drums echo the band's desire to reach out beyond Africa to celebrate "the global black experience" Thanks to bands like Gokh-Bi System, we don't have to write off rap, just set our gaze beyond its garish glare and reconnect with its humanity.