Born in Podor, Senegal, Baaba Maal is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and a member of the semi-nomadic Fulani people who has gone on to earn international acclaim for his numerous recordings and collaborations, many of which mix traditional African instrumentation and sounds with contemporary production.
Since releasing his first album, Djam Leelii, with his friend and fellow Senagalese artist Mansour Seck in 1989, Maal has recorded over a dozen albums, toured the world, worked as a cultural ambassador, and and collaborated with such high-profile artists as Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Hans Zimmer, Damon Albarn, and Mumford & Sons.
In recent years he also worked with composer Ludwig Göransson, contributing to the soundtracks to the films Black Panther and Wakanda Forever. He even had a small part as a funeral singer in Wakanda Forever.
“When I was asked to participate, and particularly in this part of the movie, where it’s a celebration dedicated to Chadwick [Boseman], I say yes because he is someone that I really did admire,” Maal told NPR.
Now Maal is back with new music including the single “Freak Out.” Created in collaboration with The Very Best, the bright, energetic song mixes traditional instrumentation and vocals and sounds with electronic production. And it has a message, too. “It became a song about being careful what you put on the internet,” Maal said. “It might seem funny or popular when you do it, but it might have consequences and you will have to live with those all your life. There are things you should keep to yourself.”
“The internet,” Maal continued, “should be used to make humanity feel good about themselves. It is so powerful, it can be dangerous and sometimes it just seems the internet has just caused a constant freak out.”
“Freak Out” appears on Maal’s 14th studio album Being, due out on March 31.
“Each song of this album has its own personality. A song is like a person. It has a life, name, a character, and it has a position in life,” Maal said. “I think that’s what makes this album so powerful – it is totally about now and where I am now, the dreams I have of the past and the future.”
“Music shouldn’t be about the struggle,” Maal told NME. “Let things come out of our heart and soul and share it with people that will love to share.”
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