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MC Solaar
MACH 6
(EastWest/WEA France)
Stars graphics

The sense of adventure has long since fallen out of the rap and music of Claude Míbarali, a/k/a MC Solaar. What remains, here as in his magisterial Cinquième As (Fifth Ace), his fifth CD, is a willingness to use and reuse, in shifting combinations, the melodies, atmospherics, slow beats, vocal choruses, and jazz permutations that heís always fancied. Solaarís quiet-man raps talk to you as you stroll through Paris and through the cityís metropolis of sounds. Because Solaarís big city is both a no manís land and a series of neighborhoods in which he knows lots of faces by first name (and talks to them, in their local argot), he makes his music soothing sweet and wistfully sad at the same time.

Still, it takes a pessimistic listener to read too much into this CDís lonely or unsettling moment when itís offset by life-is-good sentiments smiled, exulted, teased, harmonized, and relaxed upon in several overlapping languages: "La vie est belle," the dreamy "Today Is a Good Day" (a translation of and almost a personal commentary upon Mylene Farmerís recent hit "Cíest une belle journée"), "Hijo de Africa," "Jumelles," the suavely smug "Cash Money," a cutely Caribbean "Bling bling," with its childrenís chorus led by Solaar himself. Best of all is the beboppish, strutting "Je connais mon role," a song that sums up Solaarís music and his statement of purpose. And presence.

BY MICHAEL FREEDBERG


Issue Date: January 9 - 15, 2004
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