Queen

FATi

Just about every element of contemporary American popular music – the rhythms, the harmonies, the scales, the compositional structure of the songs – derives from the folk forms of Western Africa. That’s probably why current Western African sounds fit so well into modern pop songs. From one angle, FATi’s “QUEEN” is an audacious production: it fuses hip-hop and R&B with drums, brass, and lead guitar suggestive of Afropop, and matches it with a sparkling, warm-weather vibe suitable for any Tropical playlist. From another angle, it’s all perfectly consistent. The track feels less like a balancing act and more like a homecoming. Chances are, a talent as audacious as FATi would find an audience anywhere on earth. Right now, she’s tearing up the music scene in Kenya, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, and she’s established herself as an exciting new voice in one of the undisputed centers of musical culture in the world. She’s absorbed and synthesized all of the traditions of Liberia and Abidjan – the local heritage, the colonial influences, the fascination with American pop – and she’s making sounds that are wholly her own.

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