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Mdou Moctar’s Funeral for Justice is the fury of uproarious collapse

"Funeral For Justice"

Release date: 03 May 2024
Mdou Moctar Funeral For Justice cover
02 May 2024, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

Mourning is not relegated to things passed on, nor is it necessarily negative; with enough electricity, anything can be reanimated.

On Funeral for Justice, Mdou Moctar’s thunderous followup to the already fire-and-brimstone Afrique Victime, the justice they purport to mourn is that of the imperialistic, cartoonishly corrupt West. It’s a form of justice concocted for exploitative control, killed by the irony that it cannot stand against even its own skewed moral code. If you can imagine, the death of the West is a block party for the rest of the known universe.

Few musicians in modern history have been recognized and this instantaneously revered as Mdou Moctar. The notoriety gained from his inclusion in the iconic compilation Music From Saharan Cellphones was an assist his own Afrique Victime turned into a generational highlight reel. It is a record for the righteous music listener: propulsive rhythms, widescreen group harmonies, a fiercely anti-imperialist call to action, and- in the eye of the storm- the greatest guitarist alive, full stop. No one holding an instrument embodies lightning like Moctar, with every blistering run of his Tuareg style zipping past and flourishing like a living firework. It’s overwhelming to sincerely emotional extents, and no Classic Rock radio staple can hold a candle.

He returns here, unassumingly, the man who would be king; every beer-bellied boomer pining for the days of “real Rock” lay silently knowing the next incarnation of Jimi Hendrix wasn’t another faux-blues, mediocre projector of a greater musical meaning (see Clapton and his many soul-patch laden proteges for more info), but the real deal with an enveloping spirit. Every writer who has attempted to convince their reader list that John Mayer is a decent guitarist beneath all the fluff (no really I swear) has now had every wasted click of a keyboard laid to public embarrassment; Funeral for Justice has a diss track against the country of France. Beat that.

The trimmed collection of naturalistic ballads and “Free-Bird”-esque freakouts that constituted his previous releases have been upgraded to mostly just the latter here. Even for what passes as mellow in his brand of Tuareg Rock contains at least one riff or solo line per track equivalent to auditory nuclear wind. The opening title track hammers a rare Moctar power chord until every stereo equalizer has mixed down its bass out of fear alone; listening to this record with every volume knob torqued to its fullest is what my forebearers must’ve thought about first–wave punk, except this time not completely populated by well-off posers.

If you’ve heard a previous Moctar record and pieced together the best bits, you’ll have an imitation of Funeral for Justice’s righteous glory, but if you haven’t, use this record as a roadmap in discovering the previous odd-decade of Moctar’s talent. Every time the antiquated iconography of a ‘Rock God’ is portrayed as a Ted Nugent figure, in a Versace cowboy hat, with a $7,000 Stratocaster used only to play bar chords, it makes what Mdou Moctar represents all the more comedic: the real deal harbouring real politics with a weapon of mass destruction between his fingertips. Modern words can fail to etch out his essence because, like most human thoughts, Outkast articulated it best and first: “Power music! Electric Revival!”

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