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Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take)

News & Reviews

  • Youssou N'Dour to Receive 2013 Polar Music Prize in Stockholm Concert Hall Ceremony

    Youssou N'Dour will receive the Polar Music Prize in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall this evening. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will present the awards to N'Dour and his fellow laureate, composer Kaija Saariaho. The ceremony, televised on Sweden's TV4, is part of a week-long celebration, which includes a photo exhibit, talks with the laureates, and the Polar Music Prize Concert featuring a performance from N'Dour and his band Super Étoile de Dakar on Wednesday.

  • Youssou N'Dour Named Senegal's Minister of Culture and Tourism

    Senegalese singer-songwriter-activist Youssou N'Dour, who released five albums on Nonesuch Records over the span of a decade, has been named Senegal's Minister of Culture and Tourism in the new government formed by Prime Minister Abdul Mbaye. N'Dour is one of 25 ministers that make up the cabinet of the country's new President, Macky Sall. N'Dour helped to celebrate Sall's inauguration with a live performance in Dakar.

About this Album

Rokku Mi Rokka follows N’Dour’s 2004 Grammy Award–winning Egypt, a celebration of Senegal’s Muslim mystical culture of Sufism that featured traditional musicians from Dakar and Cairo.On Rokku Mi Rokka, N’Dour continues his adventures in traditional music.

“The music and inspiration on this album are from the north, from the desert, from parts of the country that border on Mali and Mauritania. People from those countries will know and understand this music as well as people who come from the centre of Senegal,” N’Dour says.  

“Some people might think Senegalese music means mbalax, which is Wolof, the most important language in the country, everybody speaks it. But all my life I have been saying that this is not the only music we have in Senegal, we have a wide range of sounds and rhythms. When it came to writing the songs for this album, I wanted to use different sounds.

“Sometimes you will hear a little blues on the album, a little reggae, a bit of Cuba. In Africa, we get excited when we hear these rhythms, because we feel them, they are ours, but they left Africa with the slaves a long time ago. Rokku Mi Rokka means ‘You give me something, I give you something’ and that’s the message of the album: we have received a lot from the developed world, but remember that we brought a lot, too.”

For the recording, N’Dour returned to the band he helped form a quarter of a century ago, the Super Étoile, and old friends Habib Faye (bass), Babacar “Mbaye Dieye” Faye (percussion), and Papa Oumar Ngom (guitar), who have been part of Youssou’s circle for more than 20 years. “They are not from the north, but they are Senegalese, they understand exactly what is happening in the north, the south, and the centre.”

There are a few additions to the team, too. Neneh Cherry, duets with Youssou on “Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling).” (Cherry and N’Dour previously recorded the hit song "7 Seconds" in 1994). “We’re not trying to have another ‘7 Seconds’ as this is a much more African-sounding song, featuring our instruments, such as kora,” N’Dour says.

The Malian musician Bassekou Kouyaté, previously best know as a member of Ali Farka Touré’s band, adds ngoni, a four-stringed ancestor of the banjo, to “Sama Gàmmu.” The same song also features the voice of Ousmane Kangue a singer from the north, described by Youssou as simply “great, like Baaba Maal.” Additionally Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis of Orchestra Baobab, who were in N’Dour’s studio recording their album on the day he recorded this “Xel,” sing on that track.


Youssou N’Dour, lead vocal (1-11)
Mamadou Mbaye, lead guitar (1, 4, 10)
Pape Oumar Ngom, rhythm guitar (1, 4, 10)
Guy Kaye, guitar (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10)
Omar Sow, guitar (1-3, 5-11), bass (3, 9)
Bassekou Kouyate, xalam (1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
Thierno Koite, saxophone (1)
Ibrahima Konate, trumpet (1, 11)
Wilfrid Zinsou, trombone (1)
Prince Ibrahima N’Dour, programming (1, 2, 5, 8, 10), arrangement (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10); keyboard (1, 2, 4-6, 8, 10, 11)
Babacar Faye, percussion (1, 4, 7, 11), drums (7)
Steve Sehan, percussion (1-3, 5, 6-9)
Abdoulaye Lo, drums (1, 4, 11)
Alain Berge, drums (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10)
Mody Ba, guitar (2, 5, 6, 8)
Habib Faye, bass (2, 6- 8, 10, 11)
Massire Drame, tama (2)
Massaer Mbaye "Thio," percussion (2, 3, 5, 6, 8-10)
Ousmane Gangue, backing vocals (3)
Ibrahima Cisse, keyboard bass (4)
Moustapha Faye, keyboard, marimba (4, 6, 8, 10, 11)
Assane Thiam, tama (4-8, 10)
N’Deye Marie “Gawlo” N’Diaye, vocals (4)
Les Femmes Maure de Xourou Naar, backing vocals (5)
Papa Oumar Ngom, guitar (6)
Penda Sarr, backing vocals (6, 8, 10)
Assane Cisse, rhythm guitar (7)
Thio Mbaye Percussion Group, percussion (10)
Rudolph Gomis, backing vocal (10)
Balla Sidibe, backing vocal (10)
Assane Mboup, backing vocal (10)
Neneh Cherry, lead vocals (11)
Ndemba Kanoute, kora (11)
Thierno Seydou Koite, saxophone (11)
Wilfred, trombone (11)

Produced by Youssou N’Dour, except track 11, produced by cirKus (Neneh Cherry, Cameron McVey, Matt Kent)
Recorded by Prince Macter N’Dour at Xippi Studios, Dakar, Senegal
Assistant Engineers: Serge Devesvre, Baye léye
Mixed with Additional Production by cirKus
Engineer: Ruadhri Cushnan
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York, NY
Neneh Cherry appears courtesy of Tent Music.
Bassekou Kouyate appears courtesy of Outhere Records.

All songs by Youssou N'Dour with Kabou Guèye (1, 4, 9); Mody Ba / Kabou Guèye (2, 3, 5-8, 10); Neneh Cherry / Matt Kent / Cameron McVey (11)

Design by Frank Olinsky
Cover painting by Mahiah
Photography by Youri Lenquette

Executive Producers:  David Bither, Boubacar N’Dour, Michelle Lahana

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