Daara J



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BBC Radio 3 World Music Award winners for Africa in 2004, Daara J are the new Hip Hop phenomenon from Dakar.


With their own style of  ‘conscious’ Dance-Hall and Rap in English, French and their native Wolof what hits you immediately when you listen to Daara J’s new album 'Boomerang' is it's great musical quality “In our music, the melody is always the starting point”.

At their beginning, because of their lack of means, it meant rapping on some instrumental French or American raps compiled on a tape, or with only the backup of a beatbox or of a few percussion instruments. In that case, one of them would sing the melodic parts. Talk about harsh apprenticeship? But in adversity and unrewarding environment, N’Dango D, Aladji Man and Faada Freddy learned to make the most of anything that came to hand.

A precious teaching they still currently put into practice. Thus "Si La Vie N’est Pas Belle” starts with a harmony borrowed from Zulu music, “Boomerang” with a Mandingo traditional melody and for the occasion, Rokia Traore, one of the greatest divas of Malian music.

They all speak various languages, absorbing all styles of music on their journeys. A mixture of French or American rap, reggae, roots, soul, funk and Cuban music.

Their first album, Darra J was released in 1994 and they were the first Senegalese rap band to tackle up front the religious issues as well as other strong social, political and spiritual issues.

Their second album Xalima, was released in 1998 and had a curator from the House of Slaves contribute which is where the boats of the ebony commerce sailed. This dimension has of course not disappeared on this new album. "Babylone” recalls the exploitation of the African people, whether visible or invisible. "Bopp Sa Bopp" is a vigorous exposure of selfishness, yet finds its origin in Africa, whilst "Paris Dakar", their duo with Franco Senegalese Disiz Le Peste, reminds us that the wealth of mankind is not necessarily in technological development but more surely in shared well being. "Le Cycle" is a variation on the question of life, death and resurrection, whilst "Exodus" obviously deals with the uprooting of exodus. Finally, "Esperanza" is a song of hope, to not  let us sink into the abyss that awaits each one of us.

The great strength of this record is undoubtedly that it forces us to rethink our accepted ideas on Africa and its so called “lateness” compared to the Occident.

“We are the first generation born after the independence. As such, we embody at the same time tradition and modernity. One foot in the past and other in the future”

Daara J toured Ireland twice in 2004 and played at The Half Moon & Cruiscin Lan in Cork, The Hub & Crawdaddy in Dublin and Trinity rooms in Limerick, Daara J also featured at The Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures in 2005. When in Ireland for their second visit Daara J appeared on Satitude, RTE1's Saturday morning children's TV program.

Daara J last visited Ireland in May 2007 when they played at Cyprus Avenue Cork on May 25th (Africa Day) and Crawdaddy in Dublin the day before.


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Last modified: 02/23/11