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Published: 2007/02/19
by Katie Mavrich

Do Your Thing – Papa Mali

Fog City Records

Papa Mali has been “doing his thing” for more than two decades, gaining musical notoriety in the reggae band Killer Bees and picking up the moniker Papa Mali from reggae prodigy Burning Spear, before embarking on a successful solo career. Do Your Thing is his second release, the first, Thunder Chicken, garnered rave reviews from publications such as Playboy and, not to mention several Louisiana-based periodicals.

Do Your Thing opens with a swampy-vibe that takes you down to Papa Mali’s real name Malcolm Helm Welbourne native Louisiana on the title track. On “Early in the Morning,” his voice has a bit of reverb that makes Mali sound a tad bit like Lenny Kravitz. “Girls in the Bossier City” has slow percussion beats, and the lyrics echo in a way that’s almost spooky — albeit in a good way. The praise of the album lies in its updated 70s southern rock vibe. And it’s no wonder the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s Kirk Joseph, “the pride of New Orleans” Henry Butler, Chuck Prophet, and jazz legend Big Chief Monk Boudreaux all make appearances on Do Your Thing. Welbourne’s voice has the perfect aged edge to it, slightly raspy, deep, and even sexy if I dare say.

In New Orleans post-Katrina, Papa Mali gives the city something to praise — new tunes that are steeped with the area’s traditions. Just in time for Mardi Gras, Do Your Thing is rich with reggae and jazz sounds spiced with Creole, voodoo, and of course, swamp sounds. It’s a must for music — and the city’s — fans.

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