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Mano Negra

About this artist

Mano Negra was a French music group active from 1987 to 1995 and fronted by Manu Chao. The group was founded in Paris by Chao, his brother and cousin, all born of Spanish parents with partly Cuban roots. Their songs were mostly in Spanish, English and French, often switching from one language to the other in the same song or in the middle of a sentence or title. They also had a hit song in Arabic. They are considered pioneers of world fusion.

Mano Negra incorporated an impressive array of musical styles: punk rock, flamenco, ska, salsa, French chanson, hip hop, raï, rockabilly, reggae and African rhythms. They also made frequent use of samples from everyday sounds, electronica and experimental post-production techniques. This omnivorous approach, based on absorption and combination of a broad range of styles and sounds, was termed patchanka by the group. Taking Paris by storm in the winter of 1988-9, Mano Negra was touring the world by the following spring, achieving mainstream success in most of Europe and South America and recording a live album in Japan — however their embrace by the English-speaking world remained limited.

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