Baaba Maal - Lam Toro [1992] - Review
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critics' view

Baaba Maal's 1992 attempt to break into the global major leagues isn't the success Firin' in Fouta would become a couple of years later. It has the elements that should appeal to Westerners—the funk of "Ndelorel," the hip-hop rhythms and dancehall rapping of "Hamady Boiro (Yelle)," but the pieces never quite fit together smoothly, and the production lacks the touches to put it over the top. Most successful, ironically, is the epic "Daniibe," which is the rootsiest song on the album, taking Maal back to his native northern Senegal. So, even though he tries to emulate countryman Youssou N'Dour, he never sounds completely comfortable trying to make his music into something it was never meant to be. More than his compatriot, Maal is a true roots artist, and when those roots show through strongly, he's at his best. Lam Toro is a brave effort but only a partial success.

Chris Nickson
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