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Baba Ali

For Baba Ali, borders are made to be broken. If, at the age of 31, his first album Memory Device (Qobuzissime) sounds like the 80s - the decade of increasing cultural transfers - it is perhaps due to an instinctive compromise born from a desire to combine his Nigerian heritage and the Afrobeat of Femi Kuti - a close relative - with the effervescence of the New York hip-hop scene of his adolescence, a stone's throw from his native New Jersey. Or perhaps it comes from wanting to bring the fervour of the Berlin techno scene - in which he was once immersed - and the punk spirit or new wave placidity that characterise the London sound closer together. Why choose a path when culture is seen as a collection of crossroads? Why compartmentalise when music is impalpable and unpredictable? Freedom, instinct and experimentation are key for Babatunde Teemituoyo Doherty, who attended university with another free electron, a certain Nicolas Jaar. It was through the latter (on Wolf + Lamb) that the first project from the Baba Ali/Jules Lafayette-Terry Randolph duo, Voices Of Black, was released.


Despite critically acclaimed productions, the duo parted ways in 2013. After a few years spent in Harlem working in the art world, Baba Ali felt the urge to create again and moved to London. "London had a huge effect on me because it expanded my understanding of what blackness could be. Seeing my cousins in the uk in a whole different context – listening to grime, and dressing and speaking in a certain type of way – was so radically different to anything i’d ever experienced before, but [it was] so compelling… as a result, i’d always had this idea of the music scene in the uk being really forward-thinking and open to experimentation."


After his first solo EP, Nomad, he began working with British guitarist Nik Balchin. For the production of the very eclectic This House, released in February 2020, the duo were joined by Jamie Hince (The Kills). The lockdown periods that followed were ultimately conducive to Baba Ali setting his mind to longer and more coherent works, such as the mixtape Rethinking Sensual Pleasure, written while the duo were stuck in New Jersey at the singer's parents' home due to restrictions. This was all it took to start the production of their first album, Memory Device, a few months later. Synthesizers and retro vibes, the presence of Al Doyle (Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem) in building the atmosphere and during recording can be felt. Although the record may at first seem bright and colourful, a deeper listening reveals many tinges of melancholy infused in this euphoric dance/rock package that Baba Ali himself considers cathartic: "It’s not about trying to weigh people down by how hard life can be, or how fucked up the world is sometimes. It’s about having a communal moment where we can all acknowledge and process that together. It’s almost therapeutic." © Alexander Fay – August 2021/Qobuz

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Diskografie

12 Album, -en • Geordnet nach Bestseller

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