By Dibussi Tande
Richard Bona. Tiki. Universal Music France (Cameroon – Jazz). 2005. Official US Release: 9 May, 2006.
What happens when you mix the best of Francis Bebey and Manu Dibango, spice it up with a splash of Afro-Cuban Salsa and Brazilian Samba, and create soothing cocktail laced with the sweet languor of Jazz? You get Richard Bona’s fifth album, “Tiki”, a stunning 14-track multicultural musical odyssey put together in Brazil.
All through this album, the listener is bombarded with a dizzying but extremely soothing array of rhythms that seamlessly blend together to produce that unique Bona sound which has the uncanny ability to take you down the River Wouri for a dreamy sunset canoe ride at an instant, only for you to suddenly find yourself in Old Havana swinging to the most languorous Salsa beat.
When Richard Bona released his debut album, Scenes From My Life, in 1998, Newsweek stated that: “We don’t like showing we’re impressed by the last kid to be discovered in New York. But even the most recalcitrant change their minds when the kid’s Richard Bona.”
Eight years and five albums later, the “kid” has come of age with his best work thus far, which is getting rave reviews across the globe. As one reviewer gushes over the album,
This is the record that Richard Bona has always wanted to make. And that's why he's called it Tiki, which in his dialect means "treasure” … with Tiki, Bona has drawn a sentimental map that encompasses both his origins and the points of reference he has come across in an increasingly plural world. Inspired by the harmonies of Brazil, by Afro-Cuban rhythms and by the inevitable influence of African music, Tiki is a journey in sound between the most captivating lyrical introspection and pure expansive virtuosity. To sum up, life itself.
Tiki is meant for music lovers who pine for an era long-gone when songs actually told a story; when music was also meant to soothe the soul, and not just appeal to the lowest common denominator -- as is the case with the monotonous commercial Makossa and other Central and West African imports that we’ve become used to in recent years.