Album review: Sarazino “Mama Funny Day”


Have you heard Sarazino yet? He’s a mystical mix of genres: reggae, hip-hop, West African, and Pop- just to name a few. Like his other albums, Mama Funny Day [Cumbancha, 2018] is rich with guest stars from around the globe. As a producer, Sarazino dives into the production of his own music, having developed a studio-rich blend of instruments that fills every corner of your speakers. His music is often political, sometimes sensual or spiritual, and always upbeat and fast-paced. He sings in French, Spanish, and English.

So, if you haven’t heard him yet, now’s the time to start.

The title track, soaking in French swagger, fires densely over hearty low-end piano (a Sarazino staple). To translate: “It’s all about you, dear… It’s not really a party if you’re not well.” In fact, Sarazino has no trouble telling it like it is. On the beautiful “Frente Latina” he barks, “Listen/Anything is possible/ Life can spin you around… The world is part of a cult/ living through a bloody war.” And on the psychedelic “Jenjay” he offers, “Nobody perceives my absence/ but they do control my presence.”

One of the best tracks, “Go Johnny”, is a very modern reggae blast with sizzling synth. “Yes, go, go/ the road is ahead,” Sarazino zings, but the impact is really in the instrumentation. Put on your headphones and crank the volume. The layers of sounds swirl elegantly. “En Zion” is the same level, both in awesomeness as well as musical headiness.

Stylistically, “Berrani” is a weak song to end on. The Middle Eastern flare is interesting, but not as accessible as the other songs. Better to have ended on “Lucky Day”, a deeply political track, where, in English, Sarazino hucks, “Everybody is afraid/ everybody wants a gun.”

Yet, the drawback to Sarazino is, ironically, his consistency. He too easily found a formula, and as robust as the songs are, his go-to plot line is as follows: launch in with a fat beat and strew instruments delicately over this, then hit with two verses and two choruses, and then the guest performer comes in before the final chorus. It’s a pop equation that is near-perfect, (that’s why pop uses it), but this often leaves Sarazino’s albums to feel long and repetitive. Along with guests Toots Hibbert and Albert Watson, Sarazino whips up a tantalizing anthem on “People”, and he offers a blistering cumbia with “La Cumbia Mala”, so it’s not any one song, it’s the album totaled up. Mama Funny Day suffers because of this, and he would benefit from introducing variety, like acoustic songs, slower songs, or songs that change up the voice of tone.

But the quality of care is clear across Mama Funny Day, as well as Sarazino staying relevant more than a decade into his career, makes for an excellent example of music from the four corners of the earth synthesizing, especially within the framework of socially conscious lyrics. It’s fun, rowdy, and heavy music for the modern age. I have deep respect and love for Sarazino.