Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (DVD Review)3 Apr, 2010 By: Billy Gil
This film combines concert footage from Senegalese international star Youssou N’Dour with some of his life story and exploration of his Muslim religion.
For the uninitiated, Youssou N’Dour’s music comes from a style known as mbalax, which fuses Latin-style arrangements with chanting and percussion routed in the tradition of griots, or West African singing storytellers, of which N’Dour is a descendent. And, in a more global sense, his music touches on rock, pop and new age; he has performed with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel; and he has won a Grammy.
That Grammy, though, almost cost him his credibility in the place from which he came. The album that won, Egypt, was written in response to post-9/11 negative Muslim sentiment. While its fusion of global pop styles with the Muslim religion went over well with Western and European critics, local media decried his music as heretical.
The story of his struggle to meld a very traditional background with his status as an international pop star is both interesting and inspiring. But the film vacillates between biography, concert film and study of the release of the Egypt album, and could have benefited from more focus. N’Dour’s life is definitely interesting enough for further filmic exploration — his political involvement, such as organizing a concert for the release from imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, could definitely be touched upon in a biopic.