Les Nubians

Smooth French vocals aside, this debut album from Bordeaux-based
singing siblings Helene and Celia Faussart (a.k.a. Les Nubians)
doesn’t sound much like a product of southern France. Equal parts
Sade, Miriam Makeba and Soul II Soul, it’s more like a warm and
fashionable amalgam of funk, R&B, jazz, soul and softened
hip-hop that pays tribute to plenty of other places.

Born in Bordeaux but raised partly in Chad, with a French father
and a Cameroonian mother, the young, formerly a cappella artists
call their breakout release ‘a travelogue-a kind of journey through
all different kinds of music of the African diaspora.’ The trip is
an infectious ride of seductive vocals, grooving bass and laid-back
hip-hop with digitized orchestral backdrops and emotion-stuffed,
ethereal titles like ‘Les Portes du Souvenir’ (‘Memory’s Doors’)
and ‘Si Je T’avais Ecout?’ (‘If Only I Had Listened to You’).

Well suited to this mix is ‘Tabou,’ an upbeat remake of Sade’s
‘Sweetest Taboo,’ which comes complete with an interlude of
half-charged, Bordeaux-style rap that carries itself a bit like LL
Cool J in a Riviera deck chair. The main attraction is the Faussart
sisters themselves; well beyond their years, these smart and sultry
vocalists will make anyone want to run off and purchase a set of
Say It in French tapes.

Lyrics about love, womanhood and the preservation of traditions
will sail right over English-bound heads, but there’s enough
seduction, spirit and Afropean groove here to keep you nodding
emphatically. Omtown/Higher Octave Music 45997.

FromEscape(Sept., 1999.)
Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.