Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005
Caribbean Lights, Saturday, March 19
"We love you but you don't jump enough," joked Faada Freddy to a Caribbean Lights crowd so hopped up on Daara J's rhythms that its collective verticality reverberated hearts and walls alike. The Senegalese trio's energetic repertoire staked a legitimate claim on the true origins of rap by pointing to the West African tasso tradition and its superior precedent as a functional community artform. Drawing heavily from 2004's Boomerang, a world music chart-topper throughout Europe, Daara J adamantly insisted, "It's not about bling bling, and we don't call our women 'bitches.'" Instead Freddy, Aladji Man, and N'Dongo D traversed an entire diaspora of style, referencing American and Jamaican sounds in legion with the linguistic beauty of their native Wolof dialect. Affecting call and response routines that conjured the feel of a savannah sing-along if not that of a full-scale carnival, Daara J resurrected the role of entertainers as firebrands of the public rather than proprietors of their own selfishness. "If you live by the rhyme then you die by the rhyme" becomes a much more digestible root to swallow through the example of Daara J infusing their set with a consciousness that smiles in the face of the inevitable.