‘Lamb Ji’ is traditional wrestling, the most popular sport in Senegal, always introduced by hours of drumming, gris-gris magic and dancing (led by the fighters themselves). Born into the Momori griot clan in Tivaouane, Mbene moved as a teenager to Pikine on the outskirts of Dakar, where the late, great Ndongo Lo was first to invite her to sing at lamb events. Still a hard-core fan, here she pays hommage to all the popular fighters of recent times.
Evoking the ancient cultural legacy of the griots, ‘Walo Walo’ is also the name of the sabar rhythm underlying this track, which features Ibou Mbaye’s percussive synth-work, Mangone Ndiaye Dieng’s kit-drumming, and Bada Seck’s rigorous jolts of lower-pitched thiol drum.
‘Simb’ (‘lion’) refers to traditional drumming and dancing events, at which a cavorting ‘faux lion’ puts the frighteners on audience-members. ‘This was most the most difficult one to mix,’ recalls Ernestus, ‘in the end the most reduced from its recording.’
‘Jigeen’ means ‘woman’. ‘Man should know every woman is your mother. Cherish a woman. Respect a woman’s dignity. My friend, don’t talk bad about a woman. My mother, my father, my family, my friends, it has been hard. Look after the people who were there when you had nothing.’
A tribute to the Baye Fall leader, Ndiguel is the most traditional cut on the album, showcasing Assane Ndoye Cisse’s insinuating guitar lines, Laye Lo’s super-elasticated snare-drumming, and Bada Seck playing the khine drums associated with the Baye Fall. (Short and wide; lightweight but low.)
Yermande takes a former associate to task. ‘Stop prompting the witchdoctor to curse us. Leave people alone and let them go their own way. Take yours; leave ours to us. Don’t put anyone down without knowing what their parents have sacrificed. Keep a clean heart and don’t wish anyone ill. What you wish for yourself, wish for others. Don’t steal my clothes, they don’t fit you. Leave badness, life is too short for that.’ Like Lamb Ji and Simb, featuring all four sabar players: Bada Seck, Serigne Mamoune Seck, Abou Salla Seck and Alioune Seck. Abdourakhmane Fall’s no-flim-flam bass-playing well and truly drops anchor.”