Ya Kid K

How ironic that on those Revlon commercials the music Cindy Crawford "shake[s] that bahhdee" to is "Move This," the opening cut of One World Nation. When Ya Kid K first cut the song as the voice of the pop-techno group Technotronic, a model doubled for her in the video. Silly. Whether she's propping up a friend or tossing away a scamming man, the strength, sense and sexiness of this 19-year-old Zairian-born singer-rapper is more than skin deep. On the title track her anger about racism is real. Her passion on the sultry (and sung) "Risky Business" is molten. Her control on "You Told Me Sex" proves she can hold the calm center of a techno maelstrom. And her sense of fun on the smoking "Let This House-beat Drop" is contagious.

Ya Kid K and crew have come up with solid songs that are enhanced rather than obscured by the potent rhythms (though some cuts go on too long). Embracing reggae, African, house (neo-disco) and rave styles, she delivers a sassy, funky shout to the power of the beat. (SBK)

Maria Muldaur

Best remembered for her languorous 1974 hit, "Midnight at the Oasis," Muldaur, 49, has one of those sweet, spicy voices that drenches whatever she sings—be it blues, jazz, folk, gospel or pop—in soulful sensuality. The San Francisco Bay Area resident is in top form on this, her strongest album since Transbluesency in 1986.

Joined by such stars of the Louisiana blues circuit as Dr. John, Aaron and Charles Neville, and accordion player Zachary Richard, Muldaur jumps right into the gumbo with a thumping, bumping celebration of the raucous New Orleans parade beat, "Second Line." Another hot-mama track is "Blues Wave," with its Creedence Clearwater-like swamp boogie beat, nicely followed by the Cajun two-step ditty "Dem Dat Know."

Even when she cools down, there's a pleasurable gutsiness to Muldaur's vocals as exemplified by her two ducts with Dr. John—the coy "Best of Me" and Leon Russell's lusty "Layin' Right Here in Heaven." Only the teasing number "Dun I You Keel M Leg," which she recorded on her 1973 debut album, seems a tad tired.

Now that Bonnie Raitt has achieved Grammy-level recognition, Muldaur may just be the queen of underappreciated white female blues singers. With Louisiana Love Call, she proves again that life does not end at "Midnight." (Black Top)"

Jefferson Airplane

A programmable CD player is essential for wading through this three-disc retrospective (1965-72), which pads mil the group's essential work with live recordings and previously unreleased material. There are some pleasant surprises here, especially from the band's early years, but the sound quality is disappointingly primitive, and more than a few of these selections could only interest someone doing a graduate thesis on Haight-Ashbury. Though considered generational spokesmen, the Airplane, whose entire oeuvre included only two Top-10 singles, were wildly uneven. Their best work is lifted up by distinctive, idiosyncratic songwriting, by Grace Slick's seductive, otherworldly presence and by a swirling fusion of garage-rock, blues, jazz and Eastern music. As this box shows, however, much of their output suffers from long-windedness and self-indulgent experimentation. (RCA)"

Chris Harford

This 30-year-old singer-guitarist-songwriter came up through the Manhattan (dub scene in the '80s, and his debut album features appearances by nearly everyone he met along the way, from members of unheralded local bands to such notables as Richard Thompson and the Proclaimers.

This lineup makes for a rollicking party atmosphere at times, as on the aptly named rocker "Raise the Roof," bill Harford also has a pronounced reflective streak. At least half the songs are from the heart, such as the acoustic, Dylan-esque "You Know Me the Best" or "Blanket of Snow," a lovely, countrified slow dance dominated by piano and slide guitar.

Stylistically, Harford is a unitarian. You can hear echoes of Hoboken pop and Television-era CBGB's, of Big Star and Neil Young. But in the end he's an unabashed rocker, enthralled by the sound of I lie electric guitar, be it thick, distorted, deliberated chords or hard-charging, blues-rock leads. Like Matthew Sweet, who also had a recent breakthrough record, Harford is a versatile artist who's not afraid to cut loose. (Elektra)

>Ya Kid K

IN AFRICA, HIP-HOP MOVES ARE OLD HAT

MANUELA BARBARA KAMOSI MAOSE Djogi was born and raised in Zaire, the daughter of a Zairian father and a Belgian mother. When Djogi was 11, her mother moved the children to Antwerp, where the girl found herself an outcast, surrounded by a predominantly white culture. Encouraged by her mother, Djogi joined a local break-dance crew, the Antwerp Breakmasters, made up of Moroccans and other Africans. "A lot of that stuff is African," Ya Kid K says. "Like all the [elaborate] handshakes? That's an old African custom. Break dancing? One time in Kenya I saw this folkloric dancing with windmills and back spins, all these moves people think are just hip-hops.

Even with the break dancing, Ya Kid K says, "I always felt like an outsider in Belgium. In Africa when you go to church, the music is so good, and then you walk out into that sun and—ahhh! But in Belgium, you go to church and, well, I just found no fun there. It's cold and raining."

Growing up in Antwerp also exposed her to racial prejudice, something that she never had to confront in Africa. "I see these talk shows with kids of interracial relationships saying, 'I'm not black or white,' and I'm sorry, but that's not true," she declares. "I'm black."

Jo Bogaert, producer of the Technotronic, heard Ya Kid K with the Rap-masters in Antwerp and enlisted her to sing. Now that she has her own album (and a son, age 2, with her husband and manager, Jonathan Kamosi), the peripatetic Ya Kid K says Belgium doesn't bug her anymore: "I'm a citizen of Planet Earth."

  • Contributors:
  • Amy Linden,
  • Lisa Shea,
  • Michael Rubiner.