TITLE: “Do You Know Who I Am?”
LABEL: Asphalt Tango
REVIEW: Kal (“black” in the Romani language) is one of the most exciting bands in the former Yugoslavia. Based in Belgrade, Serbia, they describe their music as “Rock ‘n’ Roma” for its mixture of traditional Roma (gypsy) elements with a wide variety of contemporary global influences -- everything from reggae to bhangra to electronic beats. They’ve released two full-length albums, appear on a variety of compilations, and have toured all over the world. They’re also social activists, running a summer school where students from around the world come to learn Roma culture and history. Their latest project is an audio-visual campaign designed to promote a positive image of Roma people in Central Europe -- among their collaborators are MTV, the World Bank and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. “Do You Know Who I Am?” is the campaign song, and it’s a great introduction to this band’s work -- thoughtful, theatrical and a party all in a three-and-a-half minute package. Kal front man Dragan Ristic is a great admirer of Manu Chao, and he’s the closest thing to Chao that ex-Yugoslavia has yet produced.