Tracks:

  1. Maqam
  2. Beyrouth ecoeuree
  3. Moolook
  4. Wahad
  5. Ya Saryan
  6. Bokra
  7. Papa
  8. Beep
  9. Lubnan
  10. Banadoora
  11. Flotte
  12. Le criminel
  13. Laisse les
  14. Bif bam boom
  15. Tampooshy
  16. Emigrate
  17. Takassim

Review:

Oh, what's that mail in my account here: debut album of French - Arabic rapper Clotaire K...merges HipHop with oriental elements...has been working with the likes of State of Bengal, ADF and Natacha Atlas. Of course I have to listen to that! So I write back and within an instant, in my hands is a promo cd and vinyl (this guy is into Hip Hop, he cares about us djs!).

A short Arabic introduction and then , wow PHAT Beats! "Maqam" rocks, it´s the piece featuring Diva Natacha Atlas (look out for her own new album with a lot of R&B influences soon), everything falls into place: Clotaire's Arabic rhymes and Natacha's melodic loops on top - a nice arrangement with hypnotic vocal samples and violins. What about the rest? Thick Hip Hop Beatz, fat, funky basslines, matching all standards, what makes the main difference is the Arabic Flava which hangs above almost all of the tunes. His lyrics alternate between English, French and Lebanese Arabic. Too bad I don't understand a lot of their contents, but among other things the album is about being alien in your own country (his parents come from the Lebanon and Egypt, he lives in Montpellier/France) and finding your identity there. All in all, this is very conscious rapping and no bullshit. Musically there are oriental elements all over: Darabouka Percussion, Flutes, String Orchestra and Oud (Arabic Lute) which for me is one of the best melodic instrument of them all (listen to the track "Takassim" if you don't know what I mean). Clotaire K plays this instrument like an Ustad. Also, there are Indian sounds are used here and there: Tabla and the usual droning Tanpura sample, along with the Scratches, telephone voices and snippets of news, conversation and stuff making it a very dope album. It's like an alarm clock waking you up into reality, but at the same time you are swept away by some Tuvan throat singing.

Lyrics are about violence and despite my bad French and even worse knowledge of Arabic I couldn't find one dumb love song. I don't have the slightest clue of what's going on in the Arabic quarter of Montpellier, but it seems to be a good lot, considering the inspiration it has given to Clotaire´s creativity. His Flow comes with ease and he comes across convincingly in all the languages he uses. The thought of a peaceful reunification of the Lebanese youth scattered all over the world is an important feature in his work. 'Emigrate' is the seemingly slow final Tune of the album that grows into a Drum n Bass monster for which Clotaire K got himself some rhyming support from the highest order of MC: Deeder Zaman (aka Master D) x-front man of the Asian Dub Foundation. Master D gives us a bit of insight of what his post ADF music could sound like...and unavoidably the bass line here is very heavy and dubby...nice!

Clotaire K has been touring France and other countries for some years with a full live band and with the new album LEBANESE in their luggage they might go really as far as having a huge international career happening. Hip Hop and Rap on highest musical level combined with profound Arabic roots - should hit the nerves of everyone - not just the kids! From the Middle Eastern Roots to the Western Loops: LEBANESE-debut album by CLOTAIRE K is released on SubCulture Records, in Germany. You can get it through Zomba Distribution, I have no idea of an American release, though. Someone change that, please!

More Info: www.clotairek.com
(Subjective comment: I could have gone for higher numbers if there was a little more Drum n Bass on... Please make sure we get some nice remixes, Clotaire )

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