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Think Of One Camping Shaâbi [review]

If you are like me, you probably have no idea what the hell Moroccan shaâbi is. It's essentially a popular form of music that has roots in Berber, and is a big hit at many weddings and parties where their irresistible rhythms and youth appeal runs rampant. Think Of One represents Belgium, and in Brussels this Moroccan flavor is all over the airwaves, and has served as the basis for this amazing disc, Camping Shaâbi.

The first thing that caught my ear was "Oppressor", which is like the 4th cut on this disc, but is also the first English-language track on here. It's also one of the only Hip-Hop tracks on here, even if it's more on the lo-fi side of things. Loads of "white collar/black tie" rantings in there. Damn thieves. The other lo-fi offering is "Trap het af", which is more on the grimey Rock side, which isn't normally my stee, but I like how they did it. I actually love the integration of the shaâbi feel in these tracks. The rhythms can take a minute to get a lock on (I believe they are something like 12/8, which makes it hard to find that groove if you are ignorant to the style), but they work well with the various styles. With tracks like "Sharia orabi", which is a slower, jazzy Bossa nova mash, you still get that keen ear for detail, and a nice weaving - nothing that seems forced. There are other times where you are getting hit with electronica, dub, punk and other genres - but it still all comes back to the shaâbi. You can tell when an artist is really loving a style and paying homage, and when they are just mashing for the sake of mashing. Even the more traditional shaâbi cuts on here got me open, although I think I've only heard music like this in movie scores, it is not hard to get your feet tapping, and after a few shots of some good rum, I could see many a cat on the dancefloor, throwing up their hands to some of these riddims.

The only thing that lacks on here, for me, is the lyrics. Or rather, the fact that a lot of it is sung in other tongues. Tracks like the aformentioned "Sharia orabi" sound very seductive, but who knows what they are singing about!? I'm being told that the intro track, "J'étais Jetée", is about an old car that gets recycled as a taxi, but that's lost on me in listening to the cut. It could be anything, and it's danceable, so I don't mind, but I'd love to know what the lyrics are saying, in English. Thing is, it doesn't truly matter - you don't need to know the languages to get into the grooves, and I promise you, if you have an open mind and a feel for some heavily-percussive, extremely danceable tracks, check this disc out.

rock the dub gives Camping Shaâbi 4 out of 5 stars. Yes, I did. It's not something I'd seek out and buy, but I am very happy that I've been introduced to this album. Give it a twirl.

Burn Deez: "Oppressor", "Camping Shaâbi", "Trap het af"

Camping Shaâbi is available now via Crammed Discs; it will be released domestically on April 1st.


Bonus Beats: The Making of Camping Shaâbi

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