Friday, March 20th, 2020

Yemi Alade & Angelique Kidjo – Shekere

Two Women of Steel


Jessica Doyle: Despite the presence of Aggie the Dance Queen — and let’s all take a moment to give thanks that, of all the possible permutations of the universe, we live in the one that allows for the self-creation of Aggie the Dance Queen — “Shekere” feels more like something you wind down and get goofy with after a half hour or so for more intense, performative dancing. The music video’s grand introduction may do the song a disservice, making it more full and driving than it actually is. (Here’s the counterargument.)

Nortey Dowuona: Slippery strings and a lithe guitar loop around the bass, who is now riding a small Tonka drum pattern, while Angelique and Yemi kick back on leaned-out seats, both holding glasses of unsweetened bissau and looking at the sun. They watch the bass, which ditches the Tonka and immediately runs off, with neither Yemi or Angelique even bothering with its shenanigans. Yemi takes a sip.

Alfred Soto: “Talking drums and shekere combination,” goes the most instructive lyric, and Yemi Alade does her damndest to project a joy that need not smother to be infectious. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Shekere” is joyous and catchy and instantly compelling, but after the initial pleasures it offers begin to wear, there’s a strange stillness and lack of movement to it. It’s content to relax in the groove it has, not building anywhere else — and that groove isn’t interesting enough to work for the whole song.

Ryo Miyauchi: “Shekere” is self-reflexive as dance-pop goes, offering exactly what’s present. Angelique Kidjo simply responds to the vibrant sounds, rhythms and scenery around her, and Yemi Alade pushes some personality while also participating in the activity.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s a self-referential celebration, and Kidjo’s grit and Alade’s smoother vigour complement each other in a way befitting both the esteem in which they hold each other and their desire to express it. There’s a clear sense that they want all of this on record — it’s a party thrown with heart, not obligation.

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