Only three tracks in, the rich, bass-hugging funk that emanates from "J'Veux D'la Musique," clearly illuminates that "One Step Forward" is not going to find Les Nubians simply repeating the formula that made their 1999 debut such a success. Though the current political environment doesn't bode well for a French-language funk album, the undeniable artistry of "One Step Forward" should do much to sway those that have chosen to have freedom toast with breakfast. Lusciously modern, the 15 tracks neatly present a pan-global musicality that brings together club beats, neo-soul grit, Cameroonian guitar work and even a track that combines reggae smooth with Cuban son ("El Son Raggae"). Instead of settling for an album full of new versions of "Makeda" (their radio hit from 1999), Celia and Helene Faussart redefine contemporary hip-hop culture from a diasporic viewpoint that allows for any musical idea, as long as it works within the context of Les Nubians. To be clear, the album definitely hews closely to a hip, urbanized mellow and will undoubtedly get plenty of spin in Starbucks nationwide. But to dismiss this work as mere background is to do it -- and your ears -- a disservice.
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