ROKIA KONÉ & JACKNIFE LEE – Bamanan
2LP – Black Vinyl
(Housed in a Gatefold sleeve with beautiful 16-page photo and lyrics book.)
It’s a voice that soars – pure, clear and true — above bass and synths, traditional percussion and infectious Mande guitar grooves. A stop-you-in-your-tracks voice instantly familiar to anyone in Mali, West Africa: Rokia Koné, aka the Rose of Bamako. On her debut international release, she’s teamed with Irish-born, California-based rock producer Jacknife Lee — and reimagined the Malian sound in ways leftfield and ground breaking.
The album’s most reflective moment comes on the beautiful ‘N’yanyan’, which finds Koné accompanied solely by electric piano. The vocals were recorded in Bamako on 18th August 2020, the night of a coup d’état that marked another period of instability for Mali, a country troubled by severe political upheaval for almost a decade. Koné delivered a profound vocal performance in a single take, just before the power was shut down and a curfew imposed on the city.
“I sing ’N’yanyan’ for all human beings, to tell them that we are in the middle ground and all this will end one day. This difficulty is only a moment in time, and all things will pass.”
In Jacknife Lee, Rokia Koné found a musical soulmate, a collaborator who helped unlock her songs with exquisite, timeless arrangements.
“I love the new palette of colours,” says Koné, the next great voice of West Africa. “We’ve made something fresh. Something that stands out.”
1. Bi Ye Tulonba Ye
2. Shezita (Take a Seat)
3. Kurunba 04:26
4. N’yanyan 03:36
5. Anw Tile (It’s Our Time)
6. Soyi N’galanba
7. Bambougou N’tji
10. Mansa Soyari