The kora is played in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, and, naturally, New York City. Of course, when it comes to music, if it’s played anywhere it’s played in New York, so maybe it should be no surprise that Yacouba Sissoko, one of the giants of the kora, found his way from Mali to our fair city. It’s equally unsurprising that all of that other music that’s bouncing around New York would eventually work its way into Sissoko’s sound. Pairing kora with electric rhythms is an idea that has been tried before, but rarely with the success found on KoraNYC, an upcoming release from New York’s constantly moving Dutty Artz collective.
Created as a collaboration between Yacouba Sissoko and Artropolis, a producer and native of Queens, KoraNYC will be released on Feb. 17, but can already be pre-ordered at iTunes. The two musicians first met back in Artropolis’ days as an ethnomusicology student at Northeastern University, where Sissoko was a guest performer. Five years later, they shared a bill at a Dub-Stuy Soundsystem show in Brooklyn, and the masters of an old instrument and a new one decided to collaborate. The results are impressive, with swirls of kora locked tight into post-trap drum machine riddims, the whole rising and falling around Sissoko’s powerhouse vocals. Be sure to check out the full release when it drops on the 17th!