May 28, 2020
Salif Keita Throws His Hat Into the COVID-19 PSA Game

Mali's Salif Keita told us his 2019 album Un Autre Blanc would be his last full studio album, But that certainly doesn't mean he's out of the game. Keita's new song/video "Attention Coronavirus" is a standout among musical responses to the pandemic. It's unsentimental, bold, proactive and, in all, a savvy rallying call to Malians, Africans and everyone else to do the right things. (You know what those are. If not, you need to watch this video.) The song is catchy in the manner of classic Keita hits, but it wisely showcases Dr. Keb, Gaspi, Ami Yerewolo and Robot Papito, artists from a generation young enough to be his kids. International and intergenerational in the best sense, this is a song that will be heard and talked about.

Some of the footage was shot on Salif's island in the Niger River in Bamako, where in happier times he had hoped to present concerts and even a festival. But much of the rest shows people in their daily lives, on the streets of Bamako, in their homes, apartments and family compounds—all wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands with fulsome bars of soap. At the center, Keita comes off as the warrior sage, fully prepared to lead people on a new campaign. Have a look. If you're not on board yet in the global fight against coronavirus, this might do the trick.

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