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Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congolese, 1948-2015). Ville Fantôme (detail). 1996. © Bodys Isek Kingelez / Photo: Maurice Aeschimann. Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection

Overstand: 'City Dreams,' MoMA's First Solo Exhibition by a Black African Artist

We talk to art history professor Chika Okeke-Agulu about the work of Bodys Isek Kingelez getting the ivory tower treatment

It's a dizzying spectacle. Glittering skyscrapers are counterpointed by orange, yellow, and ultramarine apartment buildings shaped into wavy lines. Just across the street, an ultra-modern office complex zig-zags upwards while a few blocks away a hotel that would be the envy of Monaco rises in an elegant V, painted cerulean blue with eggshell accents.

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Imarhan Are Pushing the Boundaries of Desert Rock

The group's new album, Temet, doesn't just take the next step in Tuareg music. It sends it into hyperspace.

Imarhan's second studio album, Temet, is as much about where Tuareg music has been as it is about where it's going.

Throughout, the desert rock sextet seamlessly combines influences as diverse as Algerian Rai music, American jazz, Burkinabé funk, and global pop. But, given their heritage, this intelligent eclecticism makes perfect sense.

Imarhan's musical stylings stem from centuries old Tuareg traditions. As a semi-nomadic people, the Tuareg forged their culture across North Africa with territory stretching from Tripoli to Ouagadougou to Timbuktu. Tuareg music has always encompassed elements of the numerous cultures located along their historic trading routes while retaining their own unique pentatonic scales and polyrhythmic patterns. On their eponymously titled debut album, Imarhan paid homage to these origins through the emerging genre of desert rock and simultaneously nudged the tradition forward.

But Temet doesn't just take the next step in Tuareg music. It sends it into hyperspace.

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