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7 February 2011
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CD Reviews

Read about current African releases, as recommended by our hosts and other contributors, plus listen to audio (if you need help with listening try the audio help).

Latest

  • Vusi Mahlasela - Guiding Star

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 203)

    Vusi Mahlasela - Guiding Star

    Vusi Mahlasela’s CD ‘Guiding Star’ is cut out with essentially South African beats that comfortingly tell stories you’d normally find still breathing in the pages of history books.

    Take ‘Song for Thandi’ for example, which tells the story of detained freedom fighter Thandi Modise who the apartheid government forces arrest and make dig the ground with her hands for weapons she knows nothing of. Or ‘Sower of Words’, a tribute to the late Black Consciousness poet and writer Ingoapele Madingoane, who wrote the poem ‘Africa my beginning, Africa my ending’. The song is punctuated with the strong voice of Dave Mathews, who helps drive home the story of the rough ride Madingoane endured. And on a more intimate level ‘River Jordan’ is a song Mahlasela wrote for his late mother, who collapsed in church and died the same day.

    Mahlasela also throws in more danceable tracks such ‘Ntombi Mbala’, which rejuvenates memories of vibey down town Jo’burg or colourful parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal. And then, of course, you can’t ignore Dorothy Masuka’s reknowned ‘Pata Pata’ which – be warned – still has the potential to make you jive even when you don’t intend to.

    In addition to Masuka, Mahlasela draws on the talents of many South African guests including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Moses Ngwenya of the Soul Brothers. This CD is well compiled and ready to plug into.

    Reviewer : Irene Madonko

  • The Green Arrows - 4-Track Recording Sessions

    (Analog Africa/ AA061)

    greenarows1.jpg

    Back in the 70’s The Green Arrows were the quintessential Zimbabwean band, mixing traditional and modern with their own take on shaping the sounds of a ‘new’ Rhodesia flexing its political and musical muscles. Since then the Green Arrows consistently produced music imbibed with hope, foresight and passion for their country. Tales of the stories from the early days, tell of gigs lasting over two days with the band encouraging the audience to drink as much beer as possible! Fronted by the huge personality of Zexie Manatsa, the audiences were taken on an extraordinary journey, and as the decade unfolded the Green Arrows music began to push boundaries, combining the old traditional sounds and languages with real musicianship, politics and creativity.

    This compilation showcases tracks that the Green Arrows recorded from 1974 -1979,  including tracks from ‘Chipo Chiroorwa’,  the first LP ever to be recorded in the country and which includes the number one track ‘Musango Mune Hangaiwa’. This CD makes a perfect introduction into a particular genre of southern African music, a very listenable and upbeat compilation that will make you smile. The track to back is ‘Hurungwe’, a cheeky little number with a sprightly guitar rift and ‘call and response’ banter. A joy.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Papa Noel - Cafe Noir

    (Tumi Music/ Tumi 141)

    Papa Noel - Cafe Noir

    When you’re fortunate enough to be born on Christmas day, you can take on the name Papa Noel! Papa is a veteran of Congolese music who was at the forefront of a lively local scene creating a unique version of rumba that became his musical trademark, the first Pan-African dance sound. This inspired other musicians to look deeper into Congo’s rural musical traditions and African jazz.

    Papa Noel’s new album ‘Café Noir’ was recorded in Havana, Paris, London and the Congo. The rhythms of ‘Café Noir’ are an eclectic mix of rumba, son, merengue zoukous and soukous son. Guest artists on the album include Manu Dibango,  Coto, Sultan Zembellat, Abby Surya, Stella-liv Makasso and Ray Crespo.

    For ‘Café Noir’ he draws inspiration from Cuba. The connection is direct as during the colonial period many Congolese took an enforced passage as enslaved peoples to Cuba. Having survived their music was key to the creation of traditions in the ports of Matanzas and Havana which have become known as Cuban rumba. With ‘Café Noir’, Papa Noel pays tribute to the fact that Cuba has always been both a model and source of inspiration for African rumberos.

    The album features songs in both Spanish and Ligala with the later representing a refreshing change for those for those used to Cuban voices. As well as Congolese and various other takes on the rumba the album also manages to squeeze in some Merengue Zoukous and Soukous Son. The title track, a traditional African Rumba is particularly outstanding. A sumptuous and compelling collection of music.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Daby Toure - Stereo Spirit

    (Real World/ CDRW142)

    Daby Toure - Stereo Spirit

    Daby Touré’s second solo album has been received by mixed reviews – mostly favourable – so I’m going to stick with the positive, as this is a lovely and refreshing collection of African pop songs. ‘Stereo Spirit’  introduces us to the fusion of the sounds and influences Daby has collated throughout his musical career; living in Mauritania and Paris blending the languages of his childhood, Wolof, Soninké, and Pulaar, with English.

    A competent and self-assured solo musician, Daby wrote all the tracks on ‘Stereo Spirit’, plays all his own instruments, including guitars, bass and drums, creating an album that will have you hooked from the very first track.  If you like guitar-based singer songwriters - and I dare to compare Daby to the great Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) – but are looking for something a little different to kick back to, this is the CD for you. Daby’s vocals and sentiment gives artist in a similar genre like Youssou N'Dour and Seu Jorge a run for their money. I can guarantee this will be a staple summer listening. Standout tracks are ‘Baye’ and ‘Setal’. My favourite is ‘Yafod’.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Femi Kuti - The Definitive Collection

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 186)

    Femi Kuti - The Definitive Collection

    This is the latest compilation of Femi Kuti's music to prove that he really is 'the son of a lion'. The songs range from those from his debut album to his more experimental collaborations in recent years. This is one of those albums that everyone has a favourite. Although there is truly some fine fine music here, my favourite has to be 'Water No Get Enemy', a remix of a Fela Kuti track featuring Femi Kuti, D'Angelo and Macy Gray. The track comes from the 'Red Hot and Riot' album (2002) and shows the imaginative ways in which Femi Kuti uses his personal heritage to bring something unique to world music. If not, then try 'Beng Beng' or the moving '97', a touching tribute of the year the great Fela Kuti passed away.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Water No Get Enemy (clip)

  • Tinariwen - Aman Iman (Water Is Life)

    (Independiente / B000MCIBFW)

    TinariwenAmman1.jpg

    Since Tinariwen emerged from their homeland in the southern Saharan desert back in 2001, they have achieved the kind of success that only a few African acts have equalled. They have sold over 80,000 copies of their last two albums, 'The Radio Tisdas Sessions' and 'Amassakoul'. They have toured the globe, including headlining the African Soul Rebels 2005 tour, shared the stage with Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, Taj Mahal and others. They even have had tea with Yve Ngoo!

    'Aman Iman' is their third release and is likely to be the vehicle that drives them straight to stratospheric stardom. As usual, the music is a rootsy blend of the old, the new, the rock and the roll, all wrapped up in their unique blanket of desert blues. If you like bluegrass, electric blues, Arabic-tinged psychedelic crunking and cranking, folky guitar led beats sung by a sandy/muddy voiced orator Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, backed by harmonious female call and responses – you'll just love this!

    "This is SENSATIONAL! The album of 2007. There are plenty of bands who know how to rock, but very few who know how to roll. Tinariwen are the masters of roll’n’roll." - Andy Kershaw, BBC Radio 3.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Various Artists - BBC 3 Awards for World Music 2007

    (Union Square/ MANTDCD244)

    awardsworldmusic.jpg

    Africa has dominated the nominations this year. For a start all of the artists in the newcomer category are from the motherland. Each of them is exciting in their own right. The Africa category is packed with heavy-weights that include the late great Ali Farka Toure and kora king Toumani Diabate along with South Africa’s award-winning kwaito act Bongo Maffin , not forgetting the soul man from Addis, Mahmoud Ahmed , who was the surprise hit at the 2006 WOMAD festival. The Awards For World Music compilation is a celebration of what’s happening in World music now. Nuru Kane is nominated in the newcomer category; here is his powerful Gnawa-inspired 'Cigil' for you to listen to. ( out 14 May 2007 )

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Segu Blue

    (Out Here Records/ OH 007)

    Bassekou_CDcover.jpg

    Segu Blue is the terrific debut album by Bassekou Kouyate , a consummate artist who has been praised by musicians such as the legendary bluesman Taj Mahal who calls him a genius, through to Fatboy Slim and Damon Albarn . Bassekou has played with Toumani Diabate and he also played on Ali Farka Toure ’s posthumous masterpiece Savane. Bassekou is the master of the ngoni, the Malian spiked lute, the first instrument of the Griots that goes back to the time of Sundiate Keita, the first emperor of Mali back in the 13th century. The ngoni is a canoe-shaped guitar like instrument and is the ancestor of the banjo - it makes a glorious sound. So what about this album? The pioneering Bassekou and his band are a ngoni quartet, they play the pentatonic soulful blues music of the Bamana people of Segu. The effortless yet intricate interplay of the band is beguiling and impossible to unpick. The contribution of the guest artists including Bassekou’s wife, the singer Ami Sacko , hailed as “the Tina Turner of Mali”, and Lobi Traore heighten the enjoyment of listening to this beautifully produced album. Have a listen to 'Ngoni Fola' for a taste of this truly funky Malian blues music. A groundbreaking album – and the first time a ngoni quartet has been recorded. ( out 26 March 2007 )

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • AAR - Maanta AAR - Maanta

    BlankCD.gif

    AAR  rap about current trends, rebuilding motivation for young Somalis and encouraging change. Their Rap and R&B style is all in Somali. The track Arirmaheena means 'our affairs'. Available from: Dur Dur Studio 020 878 28670

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Arimaheena (clip)

  • K'naan - My Life is a Movie

    (Track & Field)

    BlankCD.gif

    K'naan, 'the dusty foot philosopher' is leading the pack of Somali rap artists. His lyrics are in English and he samples tracks by Tracy Chapman, Sade and Peter Tosh. Yet he is deeply connected to the traditions of Somalia 'the nation of poets'. His track 'Until the Lion Learns to Speak' is a homage to the style of the great Somali poet Ares Isse. We got hold of a sampler called 'My Life is a Movie' which is becoming a collectors item, but K'naan encourages anyone who likes his music to download tracks from his website www.thedustyfoot.com

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    K'naan - My Life is a Movie (clip)

  • Papa Noel and Papi Oviedo - Bana Congo

    (Tumi records 2002)

    Papa Noel and Papi Oviedo - Bana Congo

    Two legends meet head to head - and turn an idea into reality. An inspired way bringing together two very experienced guitarists from Congo and Cuba.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Meiway - Eternal

    (Next Music/Sono CDS 9114)

    meiwayeternal1.jpg

    A superstar in Ivory Coast, Meiway is the leading light of a style he calls Zoblazo, with up-tempo rhythms and high-tech instrumentation. High octane party music!

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Seynab Laba Dhagax - Dareen

    (Laba Dhagax Shop & Entertainment)

    Blank CD

    The album Dareen from Seynab Laba Dhagax is a touchstone and shows her strength of performance: she has a great voice and talent to keep Somali songs alive. She is now based in Toronto, Canada, and has become popular since the civil war, doing a lot of touring and work on behalf of humanitarian groups.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Dareen (clip)

  • Various Artists - West Africa Unwired

    (World Music Network/ RGNET1169CD)

    westafricaunwired1.jpg

    A classic compilation album dominated by Malian and Senegalese musicians. A choice of musicians that bring both old styles and new to the table. Particularly impressed by the lesser known Dinuba Seck whose 'Niteke Nela' is a enjoyable example of the range and power of the female voice in West African music. Definitely worth a look if you know and love the classics but want to hear the occasional surprising choice.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    'Niteke Nela' by Dieneba Seck (clip)

  • Various Artists - Rhythm of the River

    (Riverboat Records TUGCD1045)

    Various Artists - Rhythm of the River

    Generally a good mix of the masters of African music with the newcomer. Mabulu shine here for me - see what you think.

    Reviewer: Chino Odimba

    Bula Bula by Mabulu (clip)

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Tanzania

    (World Music Network/ RGENT1158CD)

    The Rough Guide to the Music of Tanzania

    Unlike countries such as Congo, South Africa, Mali, Senegal and Nigeria there haven't been too many compilations highlighting the music of Tanzania so this CD will be a welcome addition to your African music collection. It focuses more on the traditional music and there are so many undiscovered gems to be found.

    Featured on the CD are Tanzanian dance bands, such as Muziki Wa Dansi and Vijana Jazz Band, Taarab acts, such as Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club and Mohammed Issa Matona, from the coastal areas and from Zanzibar, as well as X Plastaz who represent bongo flava, the local hip-hop and are the voice of the youth.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Culture Musical Club - The Music of Zanzibar Volume 4

    (Globe Style/CDORBD 041)

    Culture Musical Club

    For those of us who can't make it to Zanzibar to hear them play – here is a little consolation. If world music is about bringing things to our ears that would otherwise be lost in time, then this album is what world music is all about. Too much choice to mention here, and more than enough to enjoy on this album. Honestly, you don't need be on a beautiful island somewhere off the African coast to feel this.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Mwiko (clip)

  • Femi Kuti, Akli D & Ba Cissoko - African Soul Rebels

    African Soul Rebels 2007

    Music Beyond Mainstream (Promo CD) A very brief introduction to all three musicians taking part in the 2007 tour. And a great way to sample some of the delights you can expect at each gig.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Good Morning Tchetchenia (clip)

  • Drums of Burundi - Ensemble Folklorique Batimbo

    (ARC Music / EUCD2053)

    Drums of Burundi Ensemble Folklorique Batimbo

    Anyone who was a fan of the Dandy Prince of Pop, Adam Ant, will already be aware of the fabulous, thunderous tribal beats and chants of the drummers of Burundi. It was these very drums that were the identifying sound, shaping most of Mr Ant's hits! Way back in the 80s, Adam and the Ants as well as Bow Wow Wow heavily sampled the enormous Burundi beats. The original source of this tribal rhythm was a recording of 25 drummers of the Ingoma tribe, Burundi. The recording was included in an album, 'Musique du Burundi', issued by the French Ocora label in 1968. During the early 70s, a British pop musician named Mike Steiphenson grafted an arrangement for guitars and keyboards onto the original recording from Burundi, and the result was 'Burundi Black', an album that sold more than 125,000 copies and made the British best-seller charts.

    But back to the CD in question: the Burundi drumming and chants are being provided by Batimbo, a folk ensemble with an ancient lineage of drummers from Burundi. This ARC release features 12 traditional compositions, from songs sung at wedding ceremonies to a song instilling the qualities of a rather fine cow to songs praising the beauty and bounty of Burundi. An organic, raw joy!

    Mayonga (clip)

  • Thomas Mapfumo - Choice Chimurenga

    (Sheer Sound/ SLCD 059)

    Thomas Mapfumo

    Originally released in 2003, but available here in the UK for the first time, 'Choice Chimurenga' pools the very best of Thomas Mapfumo's incredible body of work.

    Now living in the USA as an exile, Mapfumi, aka The Lion of Zimbabwe, stands out both as a developer and leader of Shona people's music and tradition (originating the popular style now known as Chimurenga).

    This is essentially a best of collection, capturing selected tracks from Mapfumo's albums on Anonym over the last several years. Listening to his best work like this, it's apparent how he's changed his sound, making it punchier. He's added brass here and there, bumped up the bass, and sometimes it seems as if he's spent a lot of time lately listening to roots reggae and adapting its sound for his purposes. Mbiras have remained the heartbeat of his sound, enhanced by hypnotic guitar lines and thick grooves under Mapfumo's commanding voice. Electric mbira and deep undulating bass lines drive the relentlessly upbeat music, but the sunnyness of the musical form detracts not a whit from the powerful protest lyrics and social awareness at the heart of every track. This is all proof that, even after all this time, Mapfumo still has the power.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Chimurenga (clip)

  • Al-Khaidas - Jika Jika

    (Fenkenas Investments / cdAKI001)

    Al-Khaidas

    The album is from Botswana by a trio called Al-Khaidas – yeah, you read it right - they obviously have a sense of humour… Al-Khaidas started off as dancers and won the My African Dream talent contest in the Dance section and their prize was to have a video made of them. Well, they didn't want to be filmed dancing to someone else's music so they started exploring their own rapping and singing potential and came out with their debut album 'Jika Jika'. Six tracks of Kwaito and Kwasa Kwasa which is a dancy soukous infused music. So far the album has produced two hits for them and they haven't looked back. Have a listen to the hit title track 'Jika Jika'. You can download some of the tracks as ringtones, too!

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Urban Africa Club (Hip Hop, Dancehall, Kwaito)

    (Out Here Records/ OH 006)

    Various Artist Urban Africa Club

    This is an essential release that provides a snapshot of the current urban African music scene. South Africa, Mali, Uganda … name a country on the African continent and you find young people toiling away, making music relevant to their generation and they are gradually making a mark on the global musical landscape.

    Most of the big names in African hip hop are on the album, from Didier Awadi, one of the founders of Senegal's pioneering rap outfit, Positive Black Soul, to Peter Miles the hottest dancehall act on the continent. Also on the compilation is the big noise of the moment K'Naan, Somalia's Dusty Foot Philosopher, a refugee now resident in Canada, his track 'Soobax' has got to be one of hottest dancefloor fillers around. Holding their own are the tuff Senegalese outfit Alif representing the female effort and they are firin'. Urban Africa Club does what it says on the tin - it takes you on a slamming tour of what's happening in the club scene of urban Africa.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Douta Mbaye (clip)

  • Netsayi - Chimurenga Soul

    (Militant Prince Records)

    Netsayi Chimurenga Soul

    'Kwazwa' is a delicious slice of a cappella from Netsayi's debut album 'Chimurenga Soul'. Chimurenga means 'liberation struggle' and Netsayi's clever mix of Jazz, African and Soul take us to the frontline of her exploration of identity and blackness.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Kwazwai (clip)

  • Various Artists - Indestructible African Beats

    (Manteca World Music/ MANTCD055)

    Various Artists Indestructible African Beats

    This excellent compilation by The Shrine DJs Rita Ray and Max Reinhardt features Daddy Saj's 'Corruption (E Do So)' as well as tracks by Daara J ('Boomerang' still sounds as exciting as the first time you heard it), Roots rock rebels Tinariwen of the Sahara desert, Mali's techno blues maestro Issa Bagayogo, the Congolese Konono No. 1 (8 minutes of hypnotic trance sounds), the Golden Voice of Mali Salif Keita, South African Kwaito acts Arthur and Mapaputsi and South African hip-hop act H20, and poet-cum-Afrobeat artist Ikwunga.

    This music fights for survival, peace and justice and against exploitation, disease and corruption. Serious issues plus 100% danceability.

    Reviewer: JJC

    Di Bombs by Ikwunga (clip)

  • Anis Halloway - Going On

    (GDM Records)

    Anis Halloway Going On

    Anis Hallowayis a young London-based R'n'B/ Soul/ Nu Soul singer songwriter who grew up in Sierra Leone. He has faced many challenges throughout his youth and on arriving in the UK he was given the opportunity to develop his creativity by writing, recording and performing his own music. The 23-year old has a great soulful voice which could be attributed to his strong gospel background.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Going On (clip)

  • Etran Finatawa - Introducing Etran Finatawa

    (World Music Network/ INTRO105CD)

    Etran Finatawa Introducing Etran Finatawa

    Etran Finatawa from Niger take us to a shimmering desert crossroads where Tuareg and Wodaabe Nomads come together. Electric guitars, traditional rhythm instruments, polyphonic songs are the ingredients of this potent North African and Sub Saharan combination.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Surbago (clip)

  • Ali Farka Toure - In The Heart Of The Moon

    (World Circuit/ WCD072)

    Ali Farka Toure In the Heart

    Mali's guitar maestro of desert blues' latest album, with Kora legend Toumani Diabate.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Ai Ga Bani (clip)

  • Ali Farka Toure - Talking Timbuktu

    (World Circuit/ WCD040)

    Ali Farka Toure

    A timeless classic of an album, a gorgeous collaboration with Ry Cooder, a not to be missed meeting of two of the world's most gifted and innovative guitarists. 'Talking Timbuktu' is the longest-running number one album in the history of Billboard Magazine's world music charts.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Diaraby (clip)

  • Chosan - The Beautiful Side of Misery

    Chosan The Beautiful Side of Misery

    Bronx-based Sierra Leonean rapper Chosan is featured in the intro of Kanye West's 'Diamonds from Sierra Leone' video. Chosan's debut album 'The Beautiful Side of Misery' takes the listener from the slums of war-torn Sierra Leone through the London underground, and finally to the streets of New York's Bedford Stuyvesant.

    'The Beautiful Side of Misery' is a powerful album by a promising rapper who has something to say and knows how to deliver it. It is available as a digital exclusive at iTunes, Napster, MSN Music, AOL MusicNow and Calabash Music.

    Reviewer: JJC

    Ride (clip)

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Tanzania

    (World Music Network/ RGENT1158CD)

    Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Music of Tanzania

    Unlike countries such as Congo, South Africa, Mali, Senegal and Nigeria there haven't been too many compilations highlighting the music of Tanzania so this CD will be a welcome addition to your African music collection. It focuses more on the traditional music and there are so many undiscovered gems to be found.

    Featured on the CD are Tanzanian dance bands, such as Muziki Wa Dansi and Vijana Jazz Band, Taarab acts, such as Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club and Mohammed Issa Matona, from the coastal areas and from Zanzibar, as well as X Plastaz who represent bongo flava, the local hip-hop and are the voice of the youth.

    Reviewer : JJC

    'Dunia Dudumizi by X Plastaz' (clip)

  • Various Artists - African Rebel Music (Roots Reggae and Dancehall)

    (Out Here Records/ OH 004)

    Varouis Artists Roots Regga and Dancehall

    Direct from the motherland - music of our forefathers; reggae has travelled back from the Jamaican dancehalls, to its roots in Africa. And in many ways, the transatlantic translation of what many think of as a purely West Indian art form is a more natural transition that other genres of black music such as hip-hop and Rap. Reggae has defiantly come home, to be embraced by the 'creme de la crème' of afro-reggae talent.

    Profiling hit tracks from ten countries, this compilation gives a first insight into the new reggae dancehall movement in Africa. So far only two reggae artist have had real international success: Lucky Dube and Alpha Blondy, although many of them are stars at home and regulars in their local charts, 'African Rebel Music' is the first chance for most of them to release their music internationally.

    So who are the up and coming names we should be looking out for - and insisting our local record stores and radio stations pay attention to?

    East African Reggae Bashment Crew is the melding of two famous line-ups from East Africa: the duo Necessary Noize from Kenya and Bebe Cool from Uganda. Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast who, in 2005, became the most successful reggae artist in France, whilst the 994 Crew bring on the first dancehall track ever from Mauretania.

    Ethiopia pitches in the song 'Shashamane on my mind' in which Sydney Salmon praises a piece of land that was once given to the Africans in the Diaspora by Haile Selassie as a place for repatriation. Batman is one of the most popular dancehall artists from Ghana adding the newest style of music 'raglife' now rocking the nightclubs of Accra.

    Musicians like Dully Sykes, H2O, The Danfo Drivers, Peter Miles, Teba or Rebellion are the heroes of a new generation of African pop music - you'll be surprised just how popular and refreshing African Reggae is in relation to more commercial world music.

    And finally - amidst all the testosterone and macho posturing is Alif (= Attaque Liberatoire de l'Infanteries Feministe - the Women's Infantry Liberation Army), Senegal's only female crew out of over three thousand hip hop groups. Founded way back in 1997 - ALIF is a group of women fighting. Being female in a male-dominated society and industry comes through in their lyrics again and again. Check out the track 'Wooyo', which features a mesmerising combination of styles and languages - with more than a nod to soul sister Beyonce.

    Male or female, African, Jamaican, wherever in the world you're from - the language is reggae and dancehall. The sound and lyrics of their music represent the feeling of an urban Africa and its Diaspora, in the 21st century.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Wouty Zion by Baay Sooley ft. Carlou D & Country Man (clip)

  • Various Artists - South African Gospel

    (Arc Music/ EUCD 2005)

    Various Artists South African Gospe

    South African gospel might have a similar spiritual root as its American counterpart, although the heady, historical fusion of styles and experience that has shaped African-American gospel, is a very differing musical moment. South African Gospel is based around Zulu harmonies, rather than West African. So instead of the vocal rawness, the sound is much smoother.

    This compilation attempts to highlight some of the facets of South African gospel music. One of the standout performances coming from Youth In Action, who display a wonderful vibrancy to both the singing and arrangements, as well as some stunning guitar work, especially on 'Wenjenje U Thixo' and 'Jesus Is Waiting.' The ever popular Soweto Gospel Choir, perhaps the best known of the participants, is pure class, as is Steve Kekana, the blind musician and lawyer whose hit spans decades.

    However, for those of you seeking the rambunctious, jubilation of no holds barred inspirational worship, you may be a little disappointed. All the tracks are well-polished and produced, but often lack in bite. Albeit, a gentle introduction to yet another genre of music from the most dynamitic and musically innovative continent. Hallelujah!

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Wenjenje U Thixo by Youth in Action (clip)

  • Bongo Maffin - New Construction

    (Gallo Records/ CDDCC013)

    Bongo Maffin

    The award-winning South African favourites are back with a cracking new release. 'New Construction' is full of social commentary set to great tunes and kwaito and hip hop beats. The track 'Kura Uone Grow Up & You Will See' is a great example of their latest sound.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Kura Uone (clip)

  • Sara Tavares - Balancê

    (World Connection/ WC43058)

    Saratavares

    Lilting rhythms, dextrous inter-cultural word play and gorgeous tones from this talented singer. Sara is being hailed as the voice of the new generation of Africans in Portugal, the voice of those who have struggled with their place in the world and have come to accept themselves.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Balancê (clip)

  • Tchecka - Nu Monda

    (Lusafrica/ Harmonia/ 023352)

    TchekaNuMonda1.jpg

    Tchecka who is at the fore of the new wave of artists from Cape Verde explores the African side of the Cape Verde islands; his unique style transposes the popular Batuqu rhythms on to his guitar. 'Djan Kre Bejabu' from Tcheka's album 'Nu Monda', is a sun-tinged musical evocation of his home of Santiago, Cape Verde.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Djan Kre Bejabu (clip)

  • Modeste - Fomba / Living Our Destiny

    (Space Shop Records/ MODSSCD2)

    Modeste Fomba Living Our Destiny

    The award-winning singer songwriter Modeste is back with a gorgeous second album Fomba / Living Our Destiny. This subtle rhythms of this release is the perfect platform for the dextrous guitar genius with the smoky voice.

    Fomba (clip)

  • Meiway - Golgotha (800% Zoblazo)

    (Lusafrica/ 46218-2)

    Meiway Golgothao

    'Golgoth'a is not just 100% Zoblazo - it is 800% Zoblazo. Zoblazo is the name of the cosmopolitan dance music style from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, that started in the early 90s, of which Meiway is one of the main champions. Zoblazo is characterised by a simple up-tempo rhythm and high tech instrumentation; it is a mix of different folklore from the southern Ivory Coast and has a dance rhythm with a percussion base.

    Meiway is not only the most well-known Zoblazo artist, he is also a Pan-African superstar. His current album features guest appearances by Koffi Olomidé and Louka Kanza from DR Congo and Kojo Antwi from Ghana. Highlights include the tracks 'Kkmou Prudencia', 'Voila String', 'Koundoum Beat' and of course 'DJ Tassouman' - I dare you to try and sit still to 'DJ Tassouman'! 

    Reviewer : JJC

    DJ Tassouman (clip)

  • Daddy Saj - Faya 4 Faya

    Daddy Saj Faya 4 Faya

    Sierra Leone's biggest star Daddy Saj, the 'Music Crusader', the 'Lyrical Warrior' of 'Corruption - E Do So' fame, launches his new album 'Fafa 4 Faya' (Fire for Fire). All his trademarks are there: catchy tunes blending hip-hop and traditional goombay music that make you want to get up and move, plus lyrics, mainly in Krio, Sierra Leone's national language with a message - basically entertainment and education. For instance, the track 'E Don Cam' is, in rather blunt terms, telling Sierra Leonean to use condoms. About the opening track, 'Sorriest Part', Daddy Saj says 'I dreamt Sierra Leone like a paradise but the saddest part of it is when I woke up, I found Sierra Leone most deteriorated'.

    The title track 'Faya 4 Faya' is a call to Sierra Leoneans to get ready for the up-coming elections.

    Make sure you pick up an original copy (check the rubber stamp and Daddy Saj's signature on the front) (stockist: Robert Claire & Co Ltd, 5/6 Discovery Business Park, St James's Road, London SE16 4RA, Tel: 020 7231 9000, open: 8am - 5pm).

     

    Reviewer : JJC

    Den Say Den Say (clip)

  • Manu Dibango - Essential Recordings

    (Manteca/ MANTDBL505)

    Just go out and get it - all the big tunes are on this 2CD compilation and there are just so many! Big Blow, Africa Boogie, Waka Juju - this release is exactly what it says on the tin: Essential Recordings!

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Big Blow (clip)

  • Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra - Boulevard De L'Independence

    (World Circuit)

    Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra  Boulevard De L'Independence

    This supercharged album was recorded over 14 all night sessions and is the result of 10 years experimenting with the legendary Symmetric Orchestra. This is Toumani's virtuoso innovative kora in a seething full on dance band setting.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Ya Fama (clip)

  • Etran Finatawa - Introducing Etran Finatawa

    (World Music Network/ INTRO105CD)

    Etran Finatawa Introducing

    On this album Touareg and Wodaabe traditional musicians come together to produce a subtle and progressive sound. Based on everthing from healing songs to odes to the beauty of the desert, their music is inviting and seductive. Watch for Etran Finatawa - this is definitely not the last we will hear from them.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Maleele (clip)

  • Inemo - Afro Funky Beats

    (Black Mango Music/ blackmango003)

    Inemo Afro Funky Beats

    Home-grown African talent, Black Mango Music is a record label run by Africans living in and between London, Johannesburg, Harare and Cape Town, focussing their energies on releasing the new wave of music, coming out of Africa. No one musical genre is sacrosanct, be it hip-hop, Reggae, jazz or electronica; Black Mango specialise in one thing - great music. The label is on a mission: to showcase the best talent Africa has to offer, via CD, DVD and digital download releases. The team consists of a group of like-minded Southern African musicians, promoters and music aficionados Collectively, Black Mango aim to change the way Africa is perceived by the outside world.

    'Afro Funky Beats', one of Black Mango's latest and hottest releases, is by Nigerian Afro Jazz funkster, Inemo Samiama. From his earliest years Inemo was shaped and influenced by music and his father, a guitarist, taught him to play. Aged eighteen, along with fellow countryman Majek Fashek, he formed the group Jah Stix. He travelled to Paris in the early eighties, where he played with artists like Ray Lema and Fela Kuti's former drummer Tony Allen. Inemo was then signed by Mercury/Universal for his debut album Bushman which mixed African melodies with techno, hip-hop, jungle, dub and ambient sounds.

    Inemo has now decided to return to his roots. After three years of composing, recording and travelling between London, Paris and Africa, he is back with this new album. The music is mostly slick, sophisticated funky luxe-lounge Afrobeat, but the album also features some other West African rhythms like hi-life, hence its title.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Dynamite (clip)

  • Black Coffee - Black Coffee

    (Universal/ TELCD 3021)

    Black Coffee

    Prolific South African producer with a release of his remixes that include classic tracks like Hugh Masekela's 'Stimela' and Thandiswa's 'Kwanele' in his inimitable kwaito style. If you are wondering what Kwaito is - it's South Africa 's homegrown music that is based on US house music infused with South African melodies and rhythms.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Stimela (H. Masekela) (clip)

  • Thomas Mapfumo - Rise Up

    (EMI Real World)

    Tomas Mapfumo Rise Up

    Thomas Mapfumo is in top form with his latest release that includes a fantastic rerecording of his classic 'Mukadzi Wangu'. This red-hot record is a searing indictment of Mugabe and the subjugation of his countrymen.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Kuvarira Mukati (clip)

  • Orchestre Baka de Gbine - Gati Bongo

    (March Hare Music/ MAHACD 23)

    Orchestre Baka de Gbine Gati Bongo

    On their first venture outside their forest home, the newly formed super-group 'Orchestre Baka de Gbine' (that being Baka Beyond and seven Baka musicians) present a collection of brilliant, uplifting music, recorded on a mobile solar-powered studio in the rainforests of Cameroon. The opening track 'Gati Bongo' is the closest thing to pure Gospel you'll ever hear, direct from the source, Mother Africa, whilst the rest of the album is a rare teat of earthy foot-stompers.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Mosumana Colle (clip)

  • Daniel Habtey - The Secret of the Victory

    (DHLP/03)

    Daniel Habtey The Secret of the Victory

    This is Pastor Daniel Habtey's third CD release and it's a new style of gospel, but not gospel in the Afro-American Pentecostal tradition. 'The Secret of the Victory' is delightful mix of rootsy, Arabic tinged, afro-pop. The result is an easy listening, joyful, upbeat collection of songs, sung in Amharic and English. 

    Available from DH Ministries .

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Tesewire (clip)

  • Mahotella Queens - Reign & Shine

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 177)

    Mahotella Queens Reign and Shine

    Mahotella Queens, the South African vocal group formed in 1964, have been consistent in their delivery of urban South African Music with a soulful gospel vibe.

    The Queens are back after the success of their acclaimed album 'Bazobuya' (2004) with a brilliant new album, 'Reign and Shine'. They are digging deep into their roots, doing what they do best, but yet still venturing into new territory.The Queens' experimental approach has always broken down misconceptions of Mbaqanga, the dance music of the black townships of South Africa.

    You can catch the Queens' energetic, unique lively show when they headline with Lady Blacksmith Mambazo at the Sage Gateshead on 22 May 2006.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Town Hall (clip)

  • Ambrose Adekyoa Campell - London is the Place for Me

    (Honest Jons HJRCDDJ21)

    London is the Place for Me 3 - Ambrose Adekyoa Campell

    Featuring the music of the legendary Ambrose Campbell, from his West African Rhythm Brothers band of the 1950 and 60's. Campbell was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1919 and grew up singing in his father's church in Nigeria. He first came to the attention of London's early Jazz crowd in 1946 with the emergence of Britain's first black ballet company, Les Ballet Negres, Nigerian musicians headed by Campell accompanied the dancers on the London Stage. During the bleak post-war years in London, Campbell's band West African Rhythm Brothers (which featured many Caribbean musicians including Trinidadian Lauderic Caton, trumpeter Shake Keane and saxophonist George Tydale) were hugely popular within London's trendy Soho Jazz community in the 50's and 60's. The album features many of hits of the band when they performed in the Abalabi club in Soho's Berwick Street Market, London, during this period. 

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    We Have It In Africa (clip)

  • Safari Sisters - Mapambano

    (Safari Sisters 2003)

    safarisisters1.jpg

    If we are going to talk names we don't hear that often then let me introduce to the Safari Sisters better known as Deese Mukangi and Sam Mangwana. Deesse was Sam Mangwana's backing singer for many years but on this album takes centre stage. Produced by Y Membar and Mose Fan Fan, Mapambano has everything from rap to the more traditional ballads, and of course the Congolese beats that we all know and love.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Chereko O Chereko (clip)

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa (2nd ed.)

    (World Music Network RGNET1178CD)

    Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

    This album simply confirms what we all knew already - very few regions in Africa can rival South Africa's place in both the international world music industry or in the imaginations of people across the world. Some really uplifting music here - and some things still undiscovered and unheard.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Waar's My Pyp ? by Oom Hansie (clip)

  • Ba Cissoko - Electric Griot Land

    (Totolo/ Totolo 001)

    Ba Cissoko Electric Griot Land

    New urban roots music by Conakry’s powerhouse quartet from their firin' second album 'Electric Griot Land'. This is an album of duelling koras, bubbling rhythms and top guests including Amadou Bagayogo, Tiken Jah Fakoly, K'naan and the Nubians.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Egriot Ba (clip)

  • Sally Nyolo and the Original Bands of Yaoundé - Studio Cameroon

    (Riverboat Records/ TUGCD1043)

    Sally Nyolo and the Original Bands of Yaoundé Studio Cameroon

    Here's a treat for fans of those who seek out the rootsy, raw, folksy core of afro-funk. Sally has returned to Cameroon, her homeland in search of fresh talent, ripe for development from the local music scene. And what a find! The array of jaunty beats, repetitive lyrics and pure unfettered joy jumps out in every track. One of my favourite being The Bidjoi Sisters' 'Chantal' that I can only describe as dirt-track funk, sung in a most child-like naïve, cheeky round. You'll want to play it on loop! Another real stand-out track is Roger Ngono Ayissi's 'Nomo Nga' whose joyful praise is a more mature moment altogether. Sally has dug deep to bring together a comely collection, showcasing an array of Cameroonian talent.

    Reviewer: Yve Ngoo

    Chantal by Bidjoi Sisters (clip)

  • Nuru Kane - Sigil

    (Riverboat Records 2006)

    nurukanesigil1.jpg

    A grand musical project to bring the sounds of North and West Africa together. The result is understated and superb. The acoustic brilliance of this album confirms Nuru Kane as a new and exciting voice in African music. Every song is poignant in its message but simple and artistic in its delivery. Don't waste anymore time - hear it for yourself.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Goree (clip)

  • Various Artists - Lagos Stori Plenti (Urban Sounds from Nigeria)

    (Out Here Records/ OH 005)

    Various Artists Lagos StoriPlenti Urban Sounds from Nigeria

    WOW WOW!!! I knew Nigerian city music was good - but until I heard this compilation I didn't realise how good. From the first song, 'I am a Nigerian' by Terry tha Rapman, I was smiling. I am a Nigerian, you see, so I take great joy in singing those words. The whole album demonstrates maturity and progress in the Nigerian hip-hop scene. Some songs are strangely reminiscent of the upbeat and carefree sounds of early hi-life. Some names are familiar also like the talented JJC & 419 Squad and Weird MC - the only female artist on the compilation. Others simply take you by surprise - in a very good way!

    Nigeria may be one of the craziest places in this world but it has always been a big player in international music - and this album just proves that.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    I am a Nigerian by Terry Tha Rapman (clip)

  • Lokua Kanza - Toyebi Te

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 066)

    Lokua Kanza Toyebi Te

    The 16 offerings here range from serene African village vignettes, such as the title track itself, to celebratory drumming sessions like 'Kumisaka Nkolo'. There are yearning, gentle guitar-led poems 'Tika Ngai' and simple, universal love songs. Kanza has an engaging acoustic guitar style and has obviously been listening far and wide. The feel good track 'Goodbye' is wonderfully infectious, with its universally happy vibe.  

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Good bye (clip)

  • Various Artists - North African Groove

    (Putumayo World Music/ PUT 237-2)

    Various Artists North African Groove

    Apart from Egypt's Amr Diab, the biggest names on this compilation are the Algerians: Khaled, Cheb Mami & Faudel and Morocco's Samira Saeid, but you'll also find artists from Tunisia, Libya, and interesting fusions like Eastenders feat. Shady Sheha. Opening track 'Montuno Noreño' by Jomed, a Cuban-Algerian band, shows the beautiful, and now popular, connections between Arabic and Latin sounds. A great introduction to the party music of North Africa! 

    Reviewer : JJC

    Nour El Ain by Amr Diab (clip)

  • Siji - God-given

    (BBE Music/ BBECD044)

    Siji God-given

    Singer/songwriter/producer Siji was born in London to Nigerian parents. He spent his early childhood in Lagos, now lives in New York, and has just released an album called 'God-given', a beautiful collection of classy soul songs which will hopefully appeal to the Neo Soul crowd and beyond.

    On a separate project Siji has also been working with Salif Keita, Vinia Mojica and Wunmi.

    For more information on Siji log on to his website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Sanctuary (clip)

  • Laye Sow - Djamano

    (Orange World)

    Laye Sow - Djamano

    Laye Sow is a Fula, from Northern Senegal, on the Mauritanian border. In 2003 Laye's Mbalax band, Jelitara Futa, toured the festivals in the UK, where he met a Blues guitarist, Richard Caswell. This union resulted in a powerful fusion between Senegalese Folk and American Blues. Laye Sow is deeply spiritual, a Muslim mystic is how he has been described, and all his songs in some way include this theme.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Kairaba (clip)

  • Ayetoro - The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol.1

    Formerly a lawyer, Nigerian musician Funsho Ogundipe is the band leader of Ayetoro. His early love of Miles Davies, Fela Kuti and Duke Ellington can be heard in their, mainly instrumental, sound - a blend of jazz and Afrobeat, with hints of Funk, Blues, Reggae and other African influences. 

    Reviewer : JJC

    ' Revenge Of The Flying Monkeys' by Ayetoro (clip)

  • Julien Jacob - Cotonou Julien Jacob - Cotonou Julien Jacob - Cotonou

    (Wrasse Records)

    Julien Jacob Cotonou

    Benin-born and Brittany-based, Julien Jacob is a composer, singer, writer, poet and spiritualist. Although he sings in - for a lack of a better word -'jibberish', he somehow conveys his musical intention to speak to the spirit of every listener. 'It was not deliberate to make up a language, it just happened one day.'

    His current album 'Cotonou' named after the second largest city in Benin - is refreshingly unlike any African music I've ever heard, full of original nuances, twists and the musical compositions of a very rich imagination, soothing and timely. My favourite track, 'Rag', demonstrates this to its fullest.

    Reviewer: Shaheera Asante

    Rag (clip)

  • Souad Massi - Mesk Elil

    (Wrasse Records)

    Souad Massi Mesk Elil

    Born in Algeria, award-winning singer/songwriter, Souad Massi left her war-torn country six years ago, with her guitar under her arm, for France. Mixing traditional rock, folk, classical and flamenco - the base ingredients of North Africa's Rai rhythms, she has since built an impressive career with her first two albums 'Roui' (The Storyteller) in 2000 and 'Deb' (Heartbroken) in 2003 breaking record sales. Her new album 'Mesk Elil' (Honeysuckle) was released in October and reflects, through melodic ballads and intense lyrics, Massi's concerns for her native Algeria. The album features Salif Keita's guitarist Djely Moussa Kouyate and a stunning duet with Daby Toure.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    I Won't Forget My Roots (clip)

  • Dr Victor Olaiya - The best of 3 decades of Highlife

    (Premier Music 2003)

    Dr Victor Olaiya The best of 3 decades of Highlife

    To be named the 'Evil Genius' of any strand of music takes some beating, but to be named that as a highlife musician is true class. Dr Victor Olaiya is a musical giant in both Highlife music and Nigerian music in general. Olaiya was able to take all the possibilities that were available at the height of popular music in Nigeria, and used it to secure his name in the hall of fame of highlife.

    The infectiousness of all his music typifies highlife music, yes - but once again let us remember that he was called 'Evil genius'. He always brings energy to his music - and some of the grooves that can be heard in his music past and present could never be matched. Music is his life, his work and his play. He can still be heard today playing at his famous 'Stadium Hotel' in Lagos, Nigeria, and takes pleasure from making music as enjoyable as possible.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Tiken Jah Fakoly

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS159)

    Tiken Jah Fakoly

    Now living in exile in Mali, Tiken Jah Fakoly is a gifted, articulate, angry artist from the Ivory Coast who uses his reggae driven lyrics to challenge the devastating condition of his country and gives the global status quo a verbal kicking too. His latest album 'Coup De Gueule' is getting rave reviews and you'll also find him guesting on Amadou & Mariam's 'Dimanche a Bamako' album.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Congotronics 2 - Buzz'n'Rumble from the Urb'n'Jungle

    (Craw 29 2005)

    Congotronics 2 'Buzz'n'Rumble from the Urb'n'Jungle'

    After the explosive Konono No1, comes this hugely welcomed follow-up. The Congotronics series (probably the original trance music!) has spawned six other outstanding bands form the suburbs of Kinshasa , including Kasai Ali Stars, Masanka Sankayi and others. As on the first album, listen out for distorted sounds made by the inventive recycling of old car parts, DIY amplification and a whole range of beats, swirling guitars and hypnotic Balafon. Plus the album includes a DVD to show it all. A must have!

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Soif Conjugale (clip)

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Madagascar

    (World Music Network)

    The Rough Guide to the Music of Madagascar

    This compialtion features sounds from across the world's fourth largest island, from spicy dance tunes to the pure music of the highlands. Listen out for the way Malagasy culture has been influenced by Arab, Persian, Chinese, Indian and European societies

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Jaojoby 'Tsy Zanaka Mpanarivo (clip)

  • Sunny Neji - Unchained

    (O'Jez Music)

    Sunny Neji Unchained

    Nigerian highlife star delivers his fourth album 'Unchained' and 'Oruka' is the track that everybody, especially the ladies, love.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Oruka (clip)

  • Ruggedman - Thy Album Come

    (Rugged Records)

    Ruggedman Thy Album Come

    Nigeria's controversial rapper of 'Ehen' fame shows us on his first full-length album that he doesn't only do diss tracks - 'Baraje', a club track, was a big hit for him in Nigeria recently.  

    Reviewer : JJC

    Baraje (What U Got) (clip)

  • Various Artists - African Underground Vol. 1/ Hip Hop Senegal

    (Nomadic Wax)

    Various Artists  African Underground Vol. 1/ Hip Hop Senegal

    A compilation born out of a college thesis on the social and political implications of hip-hop in Senegalese life, this is a great collection of old skool/ underground hip hop from Senegal with political lyrics in Wolof, French and English. Artists include Abass, Omzo, BMG 44, Yat Fu, Slam Revolution and Shiffai.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Art Attendan by Yat Fu (clip)

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Sudan

    (World Music Network/ RGNET 1152 CD)

    Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Music of Sudan

    Former Sudanese child soldier turned rapper, Emmanuel Jal, shines with his hit single 'Gua' on this excellent compilation, showcasing music from Africa's largest country. Musical influences are predominantly Arabic, as well as Egyptian and even Congolese, and other stand-out tracks include 'Sawani' by Setona, 'Tour To Africa' by Tarig Abubakar & The Afro-Nubians and 'In Kadugli' by Joseph Modi.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Gua by Emmanuel Jal (clip)

  • Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim - Ceasefire

    (World Music Network)

    Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim Ceasefire

    This is the hotly anticipated debut from the 21-year-old former child-soldier, turned rap star, Emmanuel Jal from Sudan. It features singer, composer and oud player, Abdel Gadir Salim. These two musicians, from opposite sides of the bloody Sudanese conflict, have created a radiant masterpiece.

    Reviewer: Shaheera Asante

    Asabi (clip)

  • Soothsayers - Tangled Roots

    (Red Earth Records/ REDECD 002)

    Shoot Sayers Tangled Roots

    After their critically-acclaimed debut album 'Lost City' from 2002, Soothsayers now release their second album 'Tangled Roots'. As the previous one it is self-produced and released on their own Red Earth label. Soothsayers are producers, writers and musicians Idris Rahman (tenor sax) and Robin Hopcraft (trumpet/ flugel horn).

    For this album they have enlisted a brilliant list of guest vocalists, musicians and co-writers including London-based Nigerian singer/percussionist Adesose Wallace, Faithless lead vocalist Maxi Jazz, Bristol-based Zimbabwean 'Chimurenga Soul' singer/songwriter Netsayi Chigwendere, Nigerian singer/guitarist/writer Keziah Jones, Africa's greatest Jazz guitarist Lucky Ranku and many more.

    The music takes in a wide range of influences: Afrobeat, reggae, dub, jazz, highlife, funk and more. This eclectic blend works perfectly with the sound being organic and unique. It reflects the diverse cultural influences in modern urban Britain and you can imagine the music fitting in on dancefloors in South London, Kingston, Lagos or Accra. Infectious, funky and great fun!  For more info check out their website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Do You Want To Know (clip)

  • K'naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher

    (Track & Field/ 82876709762)

    Knaan The Dusty Foot Philosopher

    K'naan aka The Dusty Foot Philosopher is a Somali rapper based in Toronto, Canada, who hails from the River of Blood, a notorious part of Mogadishu, Somalia, Check out his killer track 'Soobax'. The words, mainly in Somali and the odd bit of English, are a powerful battle cry against the warlords who rule Somalia.

    Due to security concerns K'naan decided that for his own safety he shouldn't attempt to shoot the video in Mogadishu. Instead 'Soobax' was shot among crowds of exiled Somalis in Mombasa and Nairobi's Eastleigh (also known as 'Little Somalia') district, Kenya. For more info and to check out his videos log on to his website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Soobax (clip)

  • Zubz - Listeners Digest

    (Outrageous Records/ CDRAGE(WM) 005)

    Zubz Listeners Digest

    'Listeners Digest' is the debut album of Zubz, a Zambian-born, Zimbabwean-raised MC/songwriter/producer based in Johannesburg, who is currently being hailed as the future of South African hip-hop. 28-year-old Zubz is a lyricist of incredible skill and this album is a collection of 19 quality tracks.

    There are more light-hearted songs such as the humorous 'Agony Haggz' or the cynical 'Superstar' as well as the conscious 'Brand New Day' which features indigenous instruments, such as the Kora, talking drum, rain stick and more.The track with most of an African influence is 'Handiende' which is partly a cover version of Steve Makoni's Zimbabwean classic of the same title. The mix of Zubz' rap delivery (about infidelity) and traditional signing in chorus in Shona (Zimbabwe's official language) is just perfect.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Handiende (clip)

  • Rocky Dawuni - Books Of Changes

    (Aquarian Records)

    Rocky Dawuni Books Of Changes

    'Book of Changes' is the fourth album of Ghanaian born and bred and now Californina-based Roots Reggae artist Rocky Dawuni. Touted as "Ghana's Bob Marley", Rocky mixes West Indian and West African influences beautifully. Dawuni's arrangements are harmonious and the vibe throughout the album is fresh, organic and rootsy, with inspiring, spiritual, conscious and positive lyrics (almost all in English).

    Stand-out tracks are 'Wake The Town', 'Save Us All', 'Africa For Learn', 'The One' ... I could list them all. This is Afro Roots Reggae, blending elements of Roots Reggae, Afro Beat, Dub and traditional African music, and creating an addictive and powerful album.

    No UK release date is set yet for this amazing collection of songs, but you can obtain a copy from his website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Africa for learn (clip)

  • Nasteex - Nuurto

    Nasteex Nuurto

    With some help from Abdi Badil (on production and kaban), newcomer Nasteex has burst onto the scene with his fantastic album 'Nuurto'. Faithfully sticking to kaban styles, it's another reassuring sign of the survival of traditional Somali music. Nasteex, who is based in Germany, performs magnificent duets with Abdi on songs like 'Heelo'.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Heelo (clip)

  • Various Artists - Mzansi Music (Young Urban South Africa)

    (Trikont/ US-0316)

    Various Artists Mzansi Music Young Urban South Africa

    This 15-track compilation is from the team behind the excellent ‘Globalista’ and ‘Africa Raps’ compilations, i.e. compiler Jay Rutledge and the Trikont label. The compilation is an urban music showcase for all things ‘Mzansi’ (slang for South Africa), i.e. Kwaito (Mandoza, Zola etc.), hip-hop (Godessa, Skwatta Kamp and H20) and more.

    Johannesburg-based journalist Maria McCloy from the brilliant South African youth web site Rage wrote the informative sleevenotes and contributed to the concept.

    Formed exactly 10 years ago, Skwatta Kamp is one of the most respected and successful South African hip-hop groups. Both streetwise and with a social conscience they built their career independently but recently signed to South African giant the Gallo Record Company. Featured on the ‘Mzansi Music’ compilation is their track ‘Umoja’ (feat. Relo) which is the first single of their latest album ‘Mkhukhu Funkshen’. Absolutely top class.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Gregg Kofi Brown feat. Sting - Together as One

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 173S)

    Gregg Kofi Brown Together as One

    Gregg Kofi Brown is renowned as the singer of African supergroup Osibisa. 'Lullaby To An Anxious Child' is a beautiful and soothing song, written and performed by North East legend Sting, accompanied by his band and Dominic Miller.

    'Lullaby' is the first single from Gregg's stunning new album 'Together As One' featuring guest appearances from Gabrielle, Des'ree, Roachford, Stanley Jordan and Billy Cobhan. A delicious mix of African Diasporic and indigenous musicians and singers infusing an essence of Africa.

    Reviewer : Yve Naboo

    Lullaby to an Anxious Child (clip)

  • Cheikh Lô - Lamp Fall

    (World Circuit/ WCD073)

    CheikhLoLampFall.jpg

    The music of Cheikh Lô conjures up an imagined city, maybe in West Africa, maybe in the Zouks of North Africa, maybe a Paris suburb, but wherever it is, it's populated with Bahians, US jazz-funksters, the ghost of Fela Kuti, spiritual tourists, the sites and aromas of a Parisian ethnic quarter, and people getting on with the daily urban toil. The radios blare out soukous, jazz, reggae and mbalax and at the centre is Cheikh Lô pulling it all together.

    Even by Senegalese standards, he is an outstanding singer, and that's no mean achievement in the land of Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal. In the late 1990s he recorded a couple of albums that showed off his versatile, soulful vocals and ability to mix Pan-African styles with anything from Cuban influences to American funk.

    The album title track, 'Lamp Fall', is a jangling Afro-Arabic-funk workout driven by legendary saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis. There's more than a passing musical similarity with fellow African Tony Allen's work, in style and cadence. There are fine, soaring vocals on the angry 'Kelle Magni' and an entertaining revival of 1970s Congolese rumba. Then there are influences from Cuba and Jamaica - with bursts of chanting and drumming from Brazil. 'Xale' is penned by the legendary Super Eagles and has a lush, rich retro-funk back beat with a strong formidable vocal.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Xale (clip)

  • Rachel Magoola - Songs from the Source of the Nile

    (ARC Music/  EUCD 1973)

    Rachel Magoola Songs from the Source of the Nile

    Having performed with Uganda's top act The Afrigo Band for twelve years, Rachel Magoola started her own successful solo career with four solo albums. Since that time, Rachel has been searching beyond her African heritage for musical influences bringing sounds from London, New York, Paris and Havana into her groove. The result is a scrumptious catalogue of top Ugandan dance tunes.

    Rachel is now setting her sites on the wider world. She recently visited the UK with The South African Gospel Singers, showcasing her hybrid fusion of African rhythms and pop sensibilities. She can also slip seamlessly into R& B and funky modern beats to create sharp new, world music dance floor fillers.

    Affectionately known as Uganda's number one diva (though not in the Mariah Carey way), Rachel puts her popularity to good use. Not content with shaking up the dance floor, Rachel's also shaking up the Ugandan establishment with her internationally acclaimed protest song 'Stop (Smoking)'.

    'Songs from the Source of the Nile' is Rachel's international debut release - a selection of tracks, original material from pop to tribal traditions, with elements of taarab and Soga rhythms merged with Congolese guitar, reggae and zouk, in full Ugandan vibe.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Jangu Eno (clip)

  • Zuba - Allez!

    (Bassa Beat Productions/ Bassa001)

    Zuba Allez

    Young, gifted and true world citizens, the Afro-Celtic, Gallic collective Zuba, straight out of Glasgow via France, Ghana, and Uganda, are led by Liberian singer Jerry Boweh.

    Shimmering guitars, soaring vocals and positive messages combine a toe-tapping danceable multicultural masala with elements of sophisticated Euro-Afro-pop (a la Youssou N'Dour, Angelique Kidjo and Salif Keita), jazz and rock.

    'Allez!' is their lastest studio album and as good as this album is, one gets the impression that the full Zuba experience is available only at live concerts. So see Zuba if you can, or buy their CD for a taste of their feel-good Bassa Beat sound.

    Zuba came to wider (and more commercial) attention as part of Freeness, a non-commercial music initiative led by artist Chris Ofili that aims to celebrate and profile new music of primarily African, Asian, Caribbean and Chinese origin. Visit their site .

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Ormoado (clip)

  • Tony Allen - Home Cooking

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS063)

    Tony Allen Home Cooking

    Okay, not a new release, and maybe not new to Africa On Your Street aficionados of deep laid-back West African beats from the Fela Kuti stable - but Tony Allen's music embodies the very essence of Afrobeat. Collaborations abound, from Blur's Damon Albarn, sublime UK Afro rapper Ty and smoky vocals from Zimbabwean folk roots diva Eska. 'Calling' is a sweet, spiritual slice of soul featuring vocals by Mary & Norman. But the revelatory track is 'Jakelwah' on which Ty raps an English translation of what Tony is singing in Yoruba; we're talking 'call and response' across the new African Diaspora.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Home Cooking (clip)

  • Kasai Masai - Tribal Connection

    Kasai Masai - Tribal Connection

    Make sure you check out London-based Kasai Masai, a 5-piece band performing traditional music from the Kasai region in Congo with a modern twist. Named after a river, Kasai lies in the heart of the rain forest where many tribes such as the Baka still maintain their traditional lifestyles. The Masai, just like the Baka, are another dignified tribe whose lives still centre around a nomadic existence.

    Sondela (clip)

  • Abdi Badil - Baadi-doon

    Blank-CD

    Abdi Badil ranks high among Somali kaban musicians. The kaban is a traditional instrument like a guitar but with four strings. In Somali music it's often played with the oud, or 'lud'- an Arabian lute.

    Having played in the popular Heegan group since 1975, Abdi sprang to fame in the early '80s by winning a Somali equivalent to Pop Idol with his song 'Amaran'. Called 'Heesaha Hir Gala', it was a radio show that helped countless singers to go on and become stars.

    His album literally crosses oceans with a production team from Waberi, Australia. And, like most Somali artists, he never loses sight of the plight of his nation as it adjusts to a new government after years of lawlessness and famine, dedicating the track 'Baadidoon' to Somali.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Baadi-doon (clip)

  • Fimber Bravo & Kadialy Kouyate - Old Kaiso

    (Bravo Bravo 2004)

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    Fimber and Kadialy are virtuosos of the steel pan and kora - the majestic African harp. 'Kaiso' is on their album, 'Small Talk', about two story telling traditions,' (African and Caribbean), getting to know each other in a spirited, mostly improvised musical dialogue.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Old Kaiso (clip)

  • Atongo Zimba - Onikpa Shwarp

    (Hippo Records 2004)

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    Taken from the Northern Ghanaian's album 'Savannah Breeze', this remix track features Atongo's trademark molo, a 2-stringed calabash guitar that he makes himself. An infectious slice of funky Hi Life that sets hips shaking and toes tapping.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Onikpa Shwarp remix (clip)

  • JJC & 419 Squad with Maintain, X2 and Tony B - Looking for a Wifey

    (Backbone Music/ promo)

    JJC and 419 Squad with Maintain, X2 and Tony B  Looking for a Wifey

    Recorded in October 2004 when Maintain visited London for the Nigerian Independence party, the track also features South African singer Tony B and Nigerian rapper X2 who both live in London. A sneak preview of the forthcoming JJC & 419 Squad album 'Finally... Atide!'

    Reviewer : JJC

    Looking For A Wifey (clip)

  • Cabdicasiis Jarmal - Meeday

    (allsafari.com)

    Blank-CD

    Outstanding kabanist, Cabdicasiis Jarmalhas supported major Somali artists like Kooshin. On this album 'Meeday' strong rhythms carry the listener on a vibrant musical journey. London and Denmark branches of Safari (African music specialists and experts in sourcing Somali music) stock it.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Damac Jacayl (clip)

  • Jali Sheriffo Konteh - Mansolou

    (Compound Sounds 2001)

    Jali Sheriffo Konteh Mansolou

    Recorded at his home in the Gambia, most of Jali Sheriffo Konteh's debut album was completed within the confines of his compound and this is really evident in the sound quality. But what the album loses in audio clarity, it makes up for in substance. Sheriffo's voice is a welcome sound - gritty, engaging and raw. He makes the well-worn songs of the griots sound fresh, while the new material by Sheriffo himself seems to fit in so perfectly with what has always been.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Africa (clip)

  • Nana Tsiboe - Asem Ni! Trouble Dat!

    (Tuntumi TD8001)

    Nana Tsiboe  Asem Ni! Trouble Dat!

    Gorgeous lush laid back High Life from the Ghanaian Master drummer with a killer voice.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Odumankumah Boa Mi (clip)

  • Angelique Kidjo - Oyaya!

    (Sony 2004)

    Angelique Kidjo Oyaya

    Born in Benin, and of the Yoruba people, Kidjo has been known for being adventurous with her music. This album really shows that sense of adventure at its best. Inspired by a trip to Cuba, and the Caribbean in general, 'Oyaya!' is both a personal trip and a philosophical moment. Songs such as 'Bala Bala' (translated as 'the essence of things' in Fon) or 'Adje Dada' show what a well thought out album this is. This is what Kidjo does best - something new, something old, something borrowed, and something blue.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Kofi Ayivor - Rhythmology

    (Otrabanda 2004)

    Kofi-Ayivor Rhythmolog

    A master drummer and percussionist, Kofi Ayivor was a founding member of the well known Ghanaian band Osibisa, and has made a name for himself amongst the giants of West African music, in particular Ghanaian music (though born in Nigeria). And since his entry into music at an early age Ayivor has been able to take Ghanaian music across continents, playing everything from the staple Highlife music of that region, to a more westernized Jazz and Reggae, and eventually becoming a producer.

    This album is a collection of the old and the new. Some of the tracks are previously unheard music composed by Kofi, whilst others simply celebrate the contribution that his musicianship has made to the world of music.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Ikwunga - Di Bombs (from ASAP, The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project)

    (iTunes)

    Ikwunga  Di Bombs from ASAP The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project

    One of the many gifted Afrobeat artists from around the globe who have come together in response to the suffering of the 1.8 million refugees of Darfur. Once the regular opening act at the Afrika Shrine, Ikwunga is a beat poet disciple of Fela Kuti. With the help of Femi Kuti and Dele Sosimi he introduced Afrobeat to his poems. 'Di Bombs' is the Afrobeat poet at his rhythmic, articulate, conscious best. Support the cause and buy ASAP from Modiba

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Di Bombs (clip)

  • Konono No.1 - Congotronics

    (Crammed Discs Craw 27)

    Konono No.1  Congotronics

    Totally mad DIY African electronics by a band from the suburbs of Kinshasha who are rooted in traditional trance music played through electric thumb pianos called likembes, hand made microphones and percussions made from old car parts.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Masikulu (clip)

  • Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche A Bamako

    (All Other 3099952)

    Amadou et Mariam - Dimanche A Bamako

    This husband and wife duo from Mali were fantastic when I saw them at the Festival in the Desert in 2004 and they have followed that up with a wicked album, produced by Manu Chao. 'Dimanche A Bamako' is pulsating, sunny and full of great tunes; my current favourite is 'La Realite'.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    La Realite (clip)

  • Modeste - Agapi Mou

    (Space Shop Records 2003)

    Modeste Hugues Agapi Mou

    This celebrated Malagasy guitarist is enjoying a terrific year after 'Agapi Mou' won the first prize in the World Music category of the International Songwriting Competition. Modeste's style is modern and dance-oriented, and this track, with its 6/8 salegy-rhythm encapsulates his mysterious Indian Ocean island home.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Agapi Mou (clip)

  • Shyani Ngcobo - Izangoma

    (World Music Network 2004)

    Shyani Ngcobo Izangoma

    South Africa's greatest exponent of Maskanda - urban Zulu Blues - Shyani has been developing his rapid guitar style for over 30 years, and is blessed with a rich deep voice. The earthy 'Izangoma' is from his album 'Introducing Shyani Ngcobo'.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Izangoma (clip)

  • Reggie Rockstone - Me Na Me Kae

    (Kassa Records KR214-003)

    Reggie Rockstone  Me Na Me Kae

    A fantastic example of Hip Life, using a sample of a very popular tune by Alhadgi K Frimpong.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Keep Your Eyes on the Road (clip)

  • Eric Agyeman - High Life Safari

    (Sterns Africa STCD 3002)

    Eric Agyeman High Life Safari

    Classy and classic dancefloor filler from the funky golden years of Highlife.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    I Don't Care (clip)

  • Bantu feat. Ayuba - Fuji Satisfaction

    (Piranha)

    Bantu feat. Ayuba Fuji Satisfaction

    Sizzling Afrobeat, Fuji and Apala, Naija style over chunks of Afropean infused hip hop.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    How Real (clip)

  • Tony Allen - Eager Hands and Restless Feat (The Best of Tony Allen)

    (WRASS 084)

    Tony Allen  Eager Hands and Restless Feat, The Best of Tony Allen

    The funkiest drummer ever takes us to the furthest reaches of 21st century Afrobeat.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Asiko (clip)

  • Juliany, Johnny-Boy, K-Swiss, Agano - Africa ReMix Ah Freek Iya

    Africa ReMix Ah Freek Iya

    The glorious jukebox soundtrack and CD for the Africa Remix exhibition at the beginning of 2005.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Fanya Tena (clip)

  • Thandiswa - Zabalaza Remix

    (GWVCD 59/ DDN)

    Thandiswa Zabalaza Remix

    Thandiswa is the sparkling lead singer and songwriter of South Africa's foremost Kwaito band, Bongo Maffin, who are widely recognised as the voice of South Africa's conscious youth. Thandiswa's debut release 'Zabalaza' was nominated for the Awards for World Music last year.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Kwanele (remix) (clip)

  • Doreen Thobekile - London Zulu

    (Mule Satellite MULE 003)

    Doreen Thobekile London Zulu

    One of my favourite UK based artists, Doreen Thobekile has finally finished her album 'London Zulu'. It is fantastic, full of soulful Township ballads and dance floor friendly tracks where Doreen's South African melodies meet the kwaito inspired cutting edge production of Transglobal Underground's Tim Whelan and Hami Mantu.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Khalimaa (clip)

  • Ade & Ruth - African Connection

    Ade and Ruth African Connection

    The charismatic lead singer of Afrobeat group Bantu with Ruth Quiqley (of UK Indie band Dogs Die In Hot Cars) serve up a fiery slice of Afrobeat-meets-Indie.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Abiani (clip)

  • Tony Allen - Lagos No Shaking

    Tony Allen Lagos No Shaking

    The awesome co-creator of Afrobeat has a new album, 'Lagos No Shaking'. Recorded in Naija over ten inspired all-night sessions, 'Lagos No Shaking' is hot, heavy Lagos-style Afrobeat. It features legends of the Nigerian music scene like singer Yinka Davis and High Life maestro Fataya Rolling Dollar. Not to be missed.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Ise Nla (clip)

  • Dobet Gnahore - Ano Neko

    (Contre-Jour cj014)

    Dobet Gnahore Ano Neko

    The effervescent Dobet Gnahore from Cote D'Ivoire explores the little known rhythms and melodies of her heritage.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Abiani (clip)

  • Mory Kante - Sabou

    (Riverboat Records/World Music Network (2004))

    This is a gem! A completely acoustic three course meal for the ears. No one can deny the position that Mory Kante holds in African music. As a member of the Rail Band in the 1970s, he worked alongside musicians like Salif Keita. He achieved international fame in 1988 with the release of 'Yeke Yeke', and since then has dappled in the world of electronic African music.

    But what this album really signifies is the true heritage of Kante's music, and his passion for the Balafon and the kora. He is a griot, always has been, and will remain one of the greatest griot musicians of our age. If you think I am exaggerating just listen to 'Sabou' - a vital album for any record collection.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Loniya (clip)

  • Moctar Mockolo Savane - Badija

    (2004)

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    Versatile rhythm master, Moctar is an outstanding soloist drummer from Senegal. His style and range of musicianship is thrilling to hear and watch - he plays a range of West African drums: the djembe, bougarabou, sabar and seourouba. Drum leader of the dance group Casadimanca, Moctar performs regularly in Ziguinchor and Abene, in the Casamance. Evocative in its simplicity, 'Badija' is truly international in its making as it which was recorded both in Africa and Bristol. Listen out for Moctar playing solo djembe and singing beautiful Mandinkan arrangements.

    Reviewer : Chino Odima

    Lengen (clip)

  • Mbawula - Southern Grooves

    (Dancing Rhino Records 2001)

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    Another stunning debut, this album celebrates the fusion of Western big band jazz music with South African township rhythms. Having worked with the best in the industry since they formed in 1998, Mbawula cleverly retain their upbeat choir styles, while experimenting with the drama of jazz.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Obibinyi,Oburunyi (clip)

  • Vusi Mahlasela - The Voice

    (ATO Records)

    Vusi Mahlasela The Voice

    Born in 1956, and brought up by his grandmother just outside Pretoria, South Africa, Vusi Mahlasela is known as 'The Voice' because of how he brought to life the sorrows and words of so many other South Africans during the Apartheid years. A skilled acoustic guitarist, and accomplished songwriter, Vusi's soft singing style sometimes hides the strength of his lyrics. He describes himself as a folk singer, but there is no mistaking the unique sound of township rhythms. Vusi seems to have transcended the huge leaps that have been made in music in SA since he became known as a protest singer/songwriter in the 1980s. His music still sounds fresh, original and inspiring.

    Khunkhwane (clip)

  • Nuru Kane & Bayefall Gnawa

    (Live in London & Paris 2004)

    Nuru Kane and Bayefall Gnawa

    Born 31 years ago in Medina, Dakar, Senegalese Nuru Kane walks, talks, sleeps and eats music. Nuru - as in 'n'roo' and Kane like 'can' - was a highlight of the 2004 Festival in the Desert in Mali and the BBC film of the event.

    As both a natural frontman and utterly compelling performer, Nuru's tall and commanding presence oozes charisma, mixing intrigue with beguiling openness. But, what about his music?

    His acoustic guitar playing is taut, sometimes stumbling and hypnotic while his mastery of the guimbri (a three stringed bass primarily used by Moroccan Gnawa musicians) often leads the way in a frantic and elastic musical mystery tour. Holding everything together is Nuru's golden voice, whether singing in Wolof, Peul, Soninke, French or English - his tone is totally engaging, beyond beauty and never sickly sweet.

    The track I've selected is from his forthcoming debut album for the World Music Network, featuring Nuru Kane solo with a slimmed down trio version of Bayefall Gnawa playing their first London show.

    Other stand-out tracks include a duet with Malian singer Sira Kouyate, recorded in Paris. The album is produced by Martin Swan of Mouth Music, and is to be released this summer. Get your orders in now! For more information on Nuru Kane, email: transfusion@mailbox.co.uk

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Johanta (clip)

  • Altraf Gnawa Group - Gnawa Music from Morocco

    (ARC Records 2005)

    Altraf Gnawa Group Gnawa music from Morocco

    The Gnawa of North Africa play deeply hypnotic trance music, led by low-pitched, rhythmic guembri melodies. It's call and response singing, accompanied by hand clapping and metal 'castanets' called qraqebs. A mixture of religious Arabic songs and African rhythms, this is ancient spiritual music with West African roots.

    The term Gnawa refers firstly to a North African ethnic minority whose origins can be traced back to West African slaves and soldiers. Secondly, it refers to the people who participate in the al-layla (Arabic 'night') or derdeba ceremony that takes place inside the house or a shrine of a Gnawa family. In this ritual, singing, dancing, incense and colourful clothes play an important role.

    Today, the Gnawa have created a distinct spot in Moroccan society. They play a social and spiritual role as well as providing entertainment. Not unlike the music of Malian super group, Tinariwen, Gnawa is very similar to the Blues - which are rooted in Black American slave songs of the late 19th century. And along with Tinariwen, Western musicians like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have collaborated with Gnawa musicians to bring the traditional sound to a contemporary global audience.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Bawab Gnawa (clip)

  • Kween (aka Queen Onokala) feat. JJC - Ayele

    (Backbone Music)

    Queen Onokala aka Kween feat  JJC

    This is the first track new Backbone Music signing Kween recorded with me, JJC, as producer and co-writer, and I am also the guest vocalist on here. Kween started her career in Nigeria and even had a hit single a couple of years ago which featured fuji star Pasuma (also known as the ‘African P. Diddy’).

    Reviewer : JJC

    Ayele (clip)

  • Mohamed Aden Ali - Himilo

    (Cleopatra Cosmetics and Entertainment)

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    This young singer from northern Somalia has a great voice - a rising star to watch out for.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Himilo (clip)

  • D'banj - Tongolo

    (Mo' Hits Records)

    D'banj - Tongolo

    ‘All Da Way’ is a track that was written when we (myself, JJC, Smokey from 419 Squad, D'banj, Kween and Don Jazzy) went to Nigeria in 2004; we started recording it in our hotel in Lagos. It is a really addictive track and has a distinct Afrobeat feel. Singer / songwriter / harmonica player D’banj from Lagos has in the past recorded with the likes of Ruggedman and also released tracks. D’banj is a great all-round entertainer, and you should try and catch him performing this track soon. The track 'All Da Way' can be found on his album 'Tongolo'.

    Reviewer : JJC

    All Da Way (clip)

  • Lord Ékômy Ndong (de Movaiz Haleine) - L'Afrikain

    (Most High)

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    Lord Ékômy Ndong is one half of a Gabonese hip-hop group called Movaiz Haleine. His solo album 'L'Afrikain' is a little bit on the long side (26 tracks!), but it’s very promising with tight beats, countless great ideas and slick production. Apart from hip-hop, it includes some R'n'B elements, traditional influences, and also has N'dongo D (from Daara J), Mali's Rokia Traoré, Cameroon's Sally Nyolo as well as fellow Movaiz Haleine member Maat guesting on tracks. More info can be found on his (French-language) website which is where you can buy the album, too.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Ty - Upwards

    (Big Dada Recordings/ BDCD057X)

    TyUpwards1.jpg

    Ty has been a real ever innovative player on the UK hip-hop scene for over ten years now. With this album Ty and producer Drew have pulled off an urban classic - every track’s a winner. With an eclectic ensemble of over twenty musicians contributing to the album (and a full band and DJ for live sets), including premier vocals, 'Upwards' has a distinct live-session vibe. My favourite tracks include ‘Wait a Minute’, the fierce ‘Ha Ha’ and ‘Oh you want more?’, probably the first track in UK hip hop to sample a fairground barrel organ!

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • A.Y. - Gonna Make It

    A.Y.  Gonna Make It

    London-based A.Y. aka African Yoruba raps predominately in his native Yoruba, but also mixes in English. 'Gonna Make It' is his first single of 'The AY To Ba Ready E.P.' and deals with the harsh realties of life in Nigeria.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Kenya

    (World Music Network/ RGNET 1137 CD)

    Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Music of Kenya

    You’ll be stunned by the range of musical talent in Kenya’s popular music scene. This complilation includes high-energy benga sounds, taarab music with its Arabic rhythms, and innovative artists from Kenya’s hip-hop generation.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Fela Kuti - The Best of the Black President

    (Talkin Loud/ 5431972)

    Fela Kuti The Best of the Black President

    The greatest African artist of our time? Every CD collection should include Fela Kuti, the singer-composer and political activist who created the ‘afrobeat’ style.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • Robert Maseko - African Keen

    (Afric'Arts/  RMCD68773)

    rober maseko african keen

    The Congolese rhythm king of England's north is backed by the energetic and rootsy CongoBeat. From the trademark East African rumba sounds of his debut album La Cremaria, to guitar-driven jit-pop from Zimbabwe, Robert's music is developing further as he bring in the diverse elements of pan-African music. Robert's voice delivers the throaty demanding lyrics of protest, berating oppression and inequality, as well as the seductive melodic searing sound of pride, love and identity.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Vusi Mahalesea - The Collection

    (BMG Africa)

    vusimah1.jpg

    A 3-CD box-set from 'The voice of South Africa', one of South Africa's most compelling musical creators, virtually unknown in the west. The set includes his first 3 albums, 'When You Come Back' (1991), 'Wisdom of Forgiveness' (1994)and 'Silang Mabele (1997).

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Majek Fashek - Prisoner of Conscience

    (Mango/ #9870)

    Majek Fashek Prisoner of Conscience

    Fashek has become one of Africa’s foremost reggae stars, bringing a Nigerian flavour with elements of afro-beat, highlife and juju in his music. He is popularly known as the ‘Rainmaker’ in Nigeria: his hit album 'Send down the rain' was credited with miraculously bringing a rain storm after the worst draught Nigeria had witnessed in a decade.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • Seckou Keita - Mali

    (Arc Music 2002)

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    A solo album from this very talented musician following the griot traditions of Mali and Senegal.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Voices of Southern Africa - Insingizi

    (Arc Music/ LC05111 EUCD 1855)

    Voices of Southern Africa Insingizi

    Zimbabwean vocal group specialising in mbube - an a cappella vocal style popular in southern Africa, internationally promoted by Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Global Soul

    (Putumayo World Music)

    Various Artists Global Soul

    'Global Soul' is a collection of contemporary soul and R'n'B from around the world released by Putumayo. Despite only four out of the 13 tracks being by African acts (including Saf Sap from Senegal and Kaïssa from Cameroon), this is still very much a worthwhile purchase as it is currently the only CD available in the UK where you can get hold of a gem of a track called 'Zeze' by T.I.D. from Tanzania.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Pee Froiss - Konkerants

    (Night & Day/ AFO 006)

    Pee Froiss Konkerants

    Senegal’s Pee Froiss, consisting of one singer, one rapper and one DJ, fuse hip-hop with R’n’B and Reggae. In their home country the group have been putting out tapes for many years, but Konkerants is their first international release.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • JJC & 419 Squad - Atide

    (Backbone Music/ BIBA 001)

    'Atide' means 'We have arrived' in my native Yoruba language. The 'we' in this case refers to myself, JJC, and my group, 419 Squad. 'Atide' is a 'faji' (= party) album, it's African hip-hop that also incorporates elements of Salsa, garage and more, with Anglo-Yoruba lyrics. While most people will know me as Skillz, founding member and producer of Big Brovaz, this album shows a different side to me.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Tinariwen - Amassakoul

    (Wayward 2004)

    Tinariwen Amassakoul

    This is the band of the moment - their guitarists make the link between Malian life and the blues so clear.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Lucky Dube - Taxman

    (Gallo 1999/ CELLULOID FR. 66995-2)

    Lucky Dube Taxman

    'Taxman' is one of Lucky Dube’s most acclaimed CDs, with inventive, intelligent lyrics and incredibly catchy tunes. The title track 'Taxman' is an ode to the dreaded financial penalties that come with wealth and fame.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Awilo Longomba - Coupe Bibamba

    (Jimmy's International Productions/ JIP150CD)

    Awilo Longomba  Coupe Bibamba

    This soukous star is one of the most popular Congolese artists on the African continent and Europe. 'Coupe Bibamba', released in 1998, includes a controversial title track denouncing poverty in Africa.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • Various Artists - The Rough Guide to African Rap

    (World Music Network/ RGNET 1126 CD)

    The Rough Guide to African Rap

    'The Rough Guide to African Rap' features our very own Ty, as well as many of my favourite African rap acts, such as Prophets of Da City from South Africa, Tanzanian Masaai hip-hop act X Plastaz, Ghanaian hip-life legend Reggie Rockstone, Mali's Tata Pound, and from Senegal Pee Froiss and Positive Black Soul.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • VIP - Ahomka Womu

    (Goodies Music Productions)

    VIP

    Rising Hip Life act VIP (Vision in Progress) is a trio made up of Promzy (Emmanuel Ababio), Lazzy (Abdul Hamid Ibrahim) and Prodigal (Nana Joseph Ofori).

    To purchase a copy call DJ Alordia on 079 5852 0531.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Various Artists - Global Hip-Hop, Beats and Rhymes, The Nu World Culture

    (Manteca / Union Square Music/ MANTCD048)

    Global Hip-Hop

    As the name implies, this compilation covers hip-hop from all four corners of the globe. African acts included are Positive Black Soul, Daara J, Yéli Fuzzo (from Fanga Fing), Zombo, X Plastaz and some Nigerian guys that go by the name JJC & 419 Squad. Highly recommended!

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Gidigidimajimaji - Many Faces

    (Gallo Record Company/ GWVCD 50)

    gidigidi-majimaji---many-fa.jpg

    Gidigidimajimaji are an African hip-hop duo from Kenya, consisting of Joseph Ogidi (Gidigidi) and Jahd Adonijah (Majimaji), and they’re big stars in Kenya. Their songs are in Swahili, Luo, their native Kenyan dialect, and English. Kwaito influences can also be heard loud and clear on this album. 'Many Faces' is a musically interesting album that goes beyond hip-hop, with positive messages, great production and strong melodies.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Bideew Bou Bess - Original

    (Mélodie - 02188.2)

    Bideew Bou Bess Original

    Senegalese hip-hop trio number 3, Bideew Bou Bess' latest offering 'Original' is just that. Catchy tunes, great variety in styles, brilliant vocal harmonies, with rapping in Wolof, French, English and even one track in Spanish.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Tic Tac - Masem

    (Goodies Music Production)

    Tic Tac Masem

    Check out this rising star of Ghanaian Hip Life, combining high life and hip hop styles.

    To obtain a copy call DJ Alordia on 079 5852 0531.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Daara J - Boomerang

    (Wrasse Records / WRASS 105)

    Daara J  Boomerang

    The most high-profile of current Senegalese hip-hop acts release their finest work to date. Great vocals and melodies, fantastic production, a mix of languages, a fusion of styles – an all-round

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Tony Allen - Home Cooking

    Tony Allen Home Cooking

    A ground-breaking album from one of the greatest drummers on the planet - Tony Allen, the man who created Afrobeat with Fela Kuti. But far from trying to do Africa 70 again, Tony works with UK vocalists like Damon Albarn and rapper Ty to bring fresh elements to his deep Afrobeat groove.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Cape Of Good Dope

    (African Dope Records/ Adopecd007)

    Various Artists - Cape Of Good Dope

    Tight compilation by South African label African Dope Records showcasing their eclectic mix of hip-hop, and also electronic and jazzy releases. Features Moodphase5, Lions of Zion and Kalahari Surfers. Other highlights are 'Social Ills' by Godessa, Cape Town's all-girl hip-hop crew, the Ragga-influenced 'Rise Up' by Red Lion and the thoroughly mad 'Crypticism' by The Man Who Never Came Back.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Cesaria Evora - Voz D'Amor

    (BMG France)

    Cesaria Evora Voz d'Amor

    Fabulous voice and haunting lyrics. Very beautiful music with real style, offering rhythm, melody and great emotion.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Daara J - Boomerang

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 105)

    Daara J Boomerang

    It's a confident new voice of Senegal 's generation of cool and is a must-buy for lovers of world music and hip hop alike. Daara J bring hip hop home.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Fela Kuti - The Best Best of Fela Kuti the Black President

    (Universal 1999 543 197-2)

    Fela Kuti, The Best Best of Fela Kuti the Black President

    Fela Kuti is one of the greatest African artists of all time - the founder of Afrobeat, a hero of the people, hounded by the Nigerian authorities for over 30 years, an artist with a vast output of over 50 albums. The classic 'Water No Get Enemy' is one of my faves.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Afrobeat Sessions

    (Union Square, 2004)

    Various Artists Afrobeat Sessions

    A lovely compilation that takes in Fela and a dazzling array of the artists he spawned, from Femi Kuti and Tony Allen to Baaba Maal, Manu Dibanga and Fatboy Slim. Afrobeat without boundaries.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Gudfella by Tony Allen remix (clip)

  • The South African Gospel Singers - Rainbow People

    (Jika Records – JK007)

    The South African Gospel Singers  Rainbow People

    This uplifting choir led by Pinise Saul draws on Xhosa, Zulu and Suthu and Tswana vocal traditions, spiritual and gospel songs, jazz and soul and contemporary street harmony found in the South African Townships.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Various Artists - Afrobeat Sessions

    (Union Square Sessions/ SESHDCD219)

    Various Artists Afrobeat Sessions

    The subtitle of this 29-track double CD is “Over two hours of the funkiest music ever made” – and I couldn’t agree more. The compilation doesn’t strictly stick to Afrobeat but instead covers current music influenced by Afrobeat, music from the same era as Afrobeat and of course Afrobeat itself.

    CD 1 is a mix more recent Afro-inspired dance music, even including surprises like Fatboy Slim, US rapper Common, as well as New York’s Afrobeat outfit Antibalas, Afrobeat-influenced Ras from Germany, Ethopian Gigi (remixed by Tony Allen), and our very own Ty (feat. Tony Allen) and JJC & 419 Squad (‘Malemicita’). There’s house, there’s hip-hop, there’s ambient – all with a distinct Afrobeat influence.

    CD2 opens with Fela Kuti’s classic “Water No Get Enemy” and it then moves on to a fantastic selection of 60s and 70s gems from The Funkees (‘Ole’), Manu Dibango (‘Soul Makossa’), Peter King (‘Shango’) and many more.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Water No Get Enemy by Fela Kuti (clip)

  • Kekele - Congo Life

    (released by Stern Africa 2003)

    Kekele  Congo Life

    There's a whole new world of reactivated acoustic Congolese music to come from these guys..... delicious melodies, inspired and original arrangements, faultless and non-indulgent playing and scalp-tingling voices.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Rokia Traore - Bowmboi

    (Tama / Label Bleu 2003/ LBLC 2594)

    Rokia Traore Bowmboi

    The daughter of a Malian diplomat she built her career in France before returning to Mali and is only now becoming a star there. She’s now being hailed as a ‘world diva’, and is among the nominations for Best African Artist in the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. This is an album full of contemplative and meditative pleasures….certainly worth adding to your collection.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Paul I.K.Dairo - Number One

    (Playground Entertainment/ Afrigroove Entertainment)

    Paul I.K.Dairo Number One

    Paul I.K. ‘Play’ Dairo is one of the sons of the late legendary juju artist I.K. Dairo. Paul’s music career initially started with him producing hip-hop and R’n’B music, but then the singer / musician / songwriter / producer, initially reluctantly, did a remix of one of his father’s greatest tracks ‘Mosorire’. This proved extremely successful and his style of music is now mixing modern R’n'B, hip-hop and house, with more traditional African music. ‘Number One’ is his latest album now available in the UK. He may have used his father’s accordion on some of the tracks on this album but he’s certainly multi-talented in his own right.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Play For Me (clip)

  • Styl-Plus - Olufunmi

    (Styl-Plus Music)

    Styl-Plus Olufunmi

    One of the hottest new acts in Nigeria is Abuja-based R’n’B three piece Styl-Plus. ‘Olufunmi’ has been one of the biggest tracks in Nigeria in the last half year or so, and radio stations are still playing it non-stop. The vocal delivery is just fantastic – and women are going crazy for the three Styl-Plus guys. For more information check out their website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Olufunmi (clip)

  • Various Artists - Kilio Cha Haki (A Cry for Justice)

    (UP2U.TO Foundation/ UP2U001)

     Kilio Cha Haki  A Cry for Justice

    Nairobi Yetu (meaning 'Our Nairobi') is a collective of 38 rappers and musicians from various slums in Eastlands, a notorious ghetto in Nairobi, Kenya. The album 'Kilio Cha Haki' was made possible by Dutch organisation UpToYouToo which financed and set up a temporary makeshift studio in the slum area. For a month this became the local hangout for aspiring Kenyan rappers.

    Starting with the plaintively sung intro (in English): "I was born in the street. I was born in the slum, raised in the slum. In the valley of Mathare." (Mathare is a slum area in the Eastlands). The reality of the slums really hits you here as the songs are about political corruption, AIDS, gun crime, poverty, abortions, rape and death. The Eastlands MCs impress with their brilliant flow which would put a lot of US rappers to shame, and musically this album is very varied with stand-out tracks being the jazzy Fanya Tena', 'Sisi' with its beatboxing and the dubby, Lingala-influenced 'Pesa Pesa'. More information can be found on the Kilio Cha Haki website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Pesa Pesa (clip)

  • Various Artists - Bongo Flava (Swahili Rap from Tanzania)

    (out | here rec/ OH 003)

    Various Artists  Bongo Flava  Swahili Rap from Tanzania

    Compiled by Jay Rutledge, journalist, radio DJ, and owner of the Munich-based indie label out | here rec, whose previous work includes what was probably the first internationally released African hip-hop compilation back in 2001, the brilliant 'Africa Raps', this is the definitive collection on bongo flava.

    Fourteen tracks that offer a snapshot of what is played in Tanzania with the different subgenres of bongo flava, from conscious to party tracks, all being present. The sound is overall upbeat with great melodies, very musical hip-hop. The sleeve notes are informativ, and give you the story of bongo flava as well as background information on all the artists featured.

    These are the most popular artists in their country and there are many highlights including 'Umoja wa Tanzania' (Juma Nature feat. Professor Jay), 'Alikufa kwa ngoma' (Mwana FA feat. Lady JD), 'Zali la mentali' (Professor Jay feat. Juma Nature & Muny), 'Asali wa Moyo' (Gangwe Mobb), 'Wife' (Daz Baba feat. Mangwair) and'Maji ya shingo RMX' (Daz Nundaz). A winner.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Umoja wa Tanzania (clip)

  • Abdulkadir Jubba - Durdurada

    (Ramaha Entertainment)

    Blank-CD

    The singer Jubba is a Somali legend. 'Durdurada' is a Somali album that became very popular around the West in the mid 90s - one of the few albums available in cassettes and CDs at that time. His songs are sung at weddings and events, and are so popular that whereever they are playing, and whichever song, you will find someone around you who knows it by heart. Available from Dur Dur Studio (020 878 28670).

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Durdurada (clip)

  • Abdullahi Boqol - Warmoog

    (Shankarforn Studio)

    Blank-CD

    Boqol from Toronto is a young man with a future of Somali traditional music to explore. His album 'Warmoog' is fantastic with great tracks such as 'Xaali', 'Qaraami' and 'Xasuus'. Available from Dur Dur Studio (020 878 28670).

    Reviewer: Awale Kullane

    Xasuus (clip)

  • Awees Qamiis & Aamino Camaari - Shumeey

    (Safari Fashion and Entertainment Center)

    Awees Qamiis and Aamino Camaari Shumeey

    This classic album 'Shummey' is by Aamino Camaari and Awees Qamiis, who is now based here in London . If you want to know more about Kabeebey, the south Somali style with an emphasis on drums, this is the album. 'Shummey' is the track from the famous romantic play which was revived in the 90s after 30 years when people talked about it but no one could see it. After the regime fell it was a hit again: the play and the album is an explosion of good music, from the beginning to the end, it's a must buy.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Baraxgeel (clip)

  • Sahra I. Cise Darmaan - Alcayn

    (Eagle Media Pro)

    Blank-CD

    The album Alcayn is very new and the singer Sahra I. Cise Darmaan draws on the current reality of the war-centred community. She dedicates a whole song to jeeps for example. This is her first album and I am sure she will be a hit.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Alcayn (clip)

  • Hani - Something Different

    (Shego Records)

    Blank-CD

    Hani is probably the first Somali artist with R&B talent, produced with the support of Shego Band, the musicians / promoters who have become the great adventure seekers. I think it's a clear mark of change and that our culture has expanded. The fact that all the songs are in English doesn't change how in touch Hani is with the current trends and the difficulties of young Somalis in the west.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

  • Mohammed Saleebaan Tubeec - Nasteexo

    (Iftin Entertainment Center 1998)

    Blank-CD

    Tubeec has had a struggle to become one of the leading Somali vocalists alive and this is my favourite album of all time.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Nasteexo (clip)

  • Various Artists - Waaberi Stars

    (Soma Entertainment)

    Blank-CD

    A new compilation of top Somali artists, hot off the press. It hits the shops in January 2004.

    The CD is available at the following Somali record shops in Wembley, London (nearest station Wembley Central): Dur-Dur Studio (020 8902 8575) , Waberi Studio (020 8782 2126), Jubba Studio (020 8903 5195).

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Ila Labalis by Jubba (clip)

    Waan Waan by Saado Ali (clip)

  • Edu Boy Superstar - Gwam Gwam Gwam

    (Reef Nut Productions)

    Blank-CD

    In this album you will find a man true to his talent. All the great components of his Nigerian highlife style have been retained. The title track 'Gwam Gwam Gwam' is laid down with a bit more funk and the usual groovy guitar work and high energy levels. No doubt you will love this sound like I do.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • Ringo Madlingozi - Sondelani

    (CCP/EMI, CDCCP1136)

    Blank-CD

    This South African star has captivating songs, a unique blend of contemporary and traditional rhythms and a beautifully distinctive voice.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • ZubopGambia 2003

    (33JAZZ102)

    Blank-CD

    The London-based seven piece ‘world beat’ band ZubopGambia are led by Gambian master musician Juldeh Camara. Juldeh is one of the leading nyanyeru (one stringed African violin) players of West Africa, a fine singer and a prolific composer. ZubopGambia bring together the musical interests and influences of everyone involved - their repertoire includes not only traditional West African pieces, but elements of jazz, afro-funk, township music, pop, reggae, blues and then some! My favourite tracks include Fool’s Gold and Dawda Sane – an arrangement based on a traditional Mandinka tune.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Various Artists - Mzansi Music (Young Urban South Africa)

    (Trikont US-0316)

    Various Artists Mzansi Music Young Urban South Africa

    15-track compilation from the team behind the excellent ‘Globalista’ and ‘Africa Raps’ compilations, i.e. compiler Jay Rutledge and label Trikont. The compilation is an urban music showcase for all things ‘Mzansi’ (slang for South Africa), i.e. Kwaito (Mandoza, Zola etc.), hip-hop (Godessa, Skwatta Kamp and H20) and more. 

    Johannesburg-based journalist Maria McCloy from the brilliant South African youth web site Rage wrote the informative sleevenotes and contributed to the concept.

    Formed exactly 10 years ago, Skwatta Kamp is one of the most respected and successful South African hip-hop groups. Both streetwise and with a social conscience they built their career independently but recently signed to South African giant, the Gallo Record Company.  Featured on the ‘Mzansi Music’ compilation is their track ‘Umoja’ (feat. Relo) which is the first single of their latest album ‘Mkhukhu Funkshen’.  Absolutely top class.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Various Artists - Kwaito South African Urban Beats

    (EMI Music South Africa/ The CCP Record Company 7243 5 93574 23)

    Kwaito

    Compiled by Kwaito specialist Sean Watson at EMI South Africa, this 14-track CD is only for the international market - not because it’s watered-down though.  As Watson puts it: "It’s such a strong compilation that we couldn’t get the rights from third parties to licence it here in South Africa.”  Indeed, this CD includes all the big names such as Mandoza, Zola, Mdu, Arthur, Mapaputsi, Kabelo, Doc Shebeleza, Trompies, Boom Shaka, TKZee etc.  Mandoza in particular is huge, and the featured track, ‘Nkalakatha’, is probably Kwaito’s biggest track ever - and one of the few that crossed over to a white South African audience, too.

  • N'Faly Kouyate & Dunyakan - Kora Groove From West Africa

    (ARC MUSIC/ LC 5111/ EUCD 1892)

    Kora Groove From West Africa N'Faly Kouyate and Dunyakan

    N'faly Kouyate, core member of the Afro-Celt Sound System, presents his own group Dunyakan on this album. N'faly's rippling kora and hypnotic African vocals blended with contemporary music and instruments creates a mesmerising mix.

    N'Faly Kouyate and his band play a jazzy version of the Mande music. The Manding people populate vast swathes of West Africa. Their culture is one of the richest and deepest in the region and their griots are famed far and wide.

    The Kouyates of Guinea are a renowned griot clan and N'Faly Kouyate has taken their skill for improvisation and kora playing - inherited from his father, Konkoba Kabinet Kouyate - to new audiences the world over.

    N'Faly Kouyate and his kora is the driving force in Dunyakan. He is a very skilled instrumentalist and the album features many long instrumental sections where the band produce delicate and beautiful music. The best track is the traditional song 'N'diyanomo' which is full of depth and beauty - where bass, drums and kora float together into a higher musical unity. On the instrumental and self penned 'Experience' N'Faly lets loose , and grooves, with mesmerising kora. In fact, 'Kora Grooves' is a surprisingly funky album at times.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Orchestra Makassy - Legends Of East Africa (The Original Recordings)

    (ARC MUSIC/ LC 05111/ EUCD 1909)

    Orchestra Makassy Legends of East Africa The Original Recordings

    In 1980 a 15-man band from Dar Es Salaam got together in a Nairobi studio with some young Brits who wanted to cash in on the Afropop boom that was sweeping the nation thanks to Nigeria's King Sunny Ade. Mzee 'Elder' Makassy was the leader and principal vocalist of the band named after him; Tshimanga Assosa of Maquis Original contributed singing and songwriting skills. The songs are sung in Shona, Swahili and Lingala.

    Mose Se Sengo a.k.a. 'Fan Fan' is often mentioned in connection with the band as he had been chef d'orchestra before striking out on his own. The excellent, bustling Kasongo Shinga played bass, there were two drummers, a tumbador, and four horn players, including Twalib Mohamed as trumpet soloist and Akuliake Saleh on alto sax. In short, a classic East African dance-band line-up.

    The opening track 'Mambo Bado' become a dance-floor hit. It still gets you going from the first note. 'Mambo Bado' should have prompted the group to international stardom but Virgin failed to promote them. In 1984, they broke up after the release of a little known album Muzuki Orchestre Makassy. Fortunately, guitarist Mose Fan Fan used some of the bands early recordings on an album called Agwaya.

    The CD is a mixture of haunting ballads such as 'Nakolela Cherie', about a man whose wife has abandoned him and their kids and 'Kufisilika Sio Kalema', a mover and shaker in the Virunga style. Most of the songs contain wry social commentary. 'Mosese', a track written by FanFan, is about a man complaining to his fiancée, this is followed by 'Athumani,' a song in which a young married woman complains about her husband running around. The bass is high in the mix for the moody 'Mke Wangu' another classic track in which the singer tells of a man who lavished material goods on his wife only to have her leave him. It's as if Fan Fan, Makassy and his many disciples had never been away. 'The Original Recordings' is a fresh, retro sound - which will leave you wanting an extra helping.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Mambo Bado (clip)

  • King Sunny Ade - King of Juju

    (Wrasse records Limited 2002)

    King Sunny Ade King of Juju

    Ladies and Gentleman! Welcome into the arena the undisputed heavyweight champion of Juju! Juju music is popular Yoruba style from Nigeria, featuring talking drums, guitars, keyboards, and sometimes pedal steel - and it would not be the same without this legend of Nigerian Music. King of Juju is a 'best of' CD including the classic track 'Synchro System', 'Ase' (which includes Stevie Wonder on harmonica) and 'Jingo' (a collaboration with Manu Dibango).

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Mo Ti Mo (clip)

  • Youssou N'Dour - Egypt

    (Nonesuch)

    egypt.jpg

    Youssou N'Dour's latest album is totally different to anything he has released. For this project Youssou got together with the like-minded Egyptian musician and producer Fahty Salama.

    'Egypt' features the strings, flutes and percussion of an Egyptian orchestra as well as traditional musicians from Dakar and Cairo. This is Youssou N'Dour's celebration of the Senegalese way of Islam - very topical and illuminating in these times of religious intolerance. It's amazing that he recorded it 6 years ago. I think it's his best release by far.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Stella Chiweshe - Talking Mbira

    (Piranha 2003 PIR 1681)

    Stella Chiweshe Talkin Mbira

    Tune in to the sound of the mbira; a sound that will immerse you in the world of the Shona spirits. Stella Chiweshe is the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe, and this magical CD is her first record for seven years.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Brenda Fassie - The Remix Collection

    (Virgin)

    Brenda Fasse  The Remix Collection

    The Madonna of the Townships, bad girl of South African pop - whatever you want to call her, she is outrageously talented and blessed with a golden voice. This CD features some of Brenda's biggest hits mixed by some of the world's top producers and includes 'Vulindlela' from her best-selling 'Memeza' album.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Red Hot & Riot

    (Red Hot 2002)

    Various Artists Red Hot and Riot

    Two years ago, the Red Hot Organisation gathered together, a group of artists to raise money to fight aids in Africa. Having himself died of the disease, Fela was the obvious choice for the central theme of the resulting album, with some of his greatest recordings - 'Gentleman', 'Lady', 'Zombie' and more - being covered, ripped apart, updated and re-visioned by, among others, Baaba Maal, Cheikh Lô, Dead Prez, Blackalicious, Yerba Buena! and Femi Kuti.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Various Artists - Essential Afrobeat (The Very Best Of Afrobeat)

    (Family Records 2004)

    Essential Afrobeat The Very Best Of Afrobeat 3CD mix

    Breathtaking journey into the outer reaches of Afrobeat, compiled by Dele Sosimi. Afrobeat is the energetic, funk-fuelled, drum-led sound that exploded in the 70's, created by Fela Kuti and his Africa 70 band, and refuses to go away. It is currently enjoying a renaissance in clubs around the UK with new nights and festivals appearing all the time.

    Dele Sosimi, who has put together this 3CD compilation, worked with Fela Kuti as his musical director for a period of time. Dele has included classic tracks from all the main Afrobeat players (Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, Tony Allen, Orlando Julius, Youssou N'Dour, Hugh Masekela, Salif Keita) plus more modern takes on it from Fatboy Slim, DJ Food and Knuf (the spanish Daft Punk and Funk spelt backwards to boot).

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Fela Kuti - Music is the Weapon (Best of)

    (Wrasse Records 2004)

    Fela Kuti Best of/Music is the Weapon

    This box set contains a double music CD and a DVD directed by Stephane Tchal-Gadjieff and Jean Jacques Flori. Fela Kuti's influence on black contemporary music cannot be overestimated; virtually all modern forms of black music (from funk to electronic) owe something to his irresistible Afrobeat groove.

    Filmed in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1982, the 53-minute documentary mixes footage of Fela Anikulapo Kuti performing at his Shrine nightclub, interviews with the controversial musician, glimpses of life at his not-so-palatial Kalakuta Republic compound, and scenes of Lagos street life. Fela recorded over 70 albums during his lifetime, all mythic. The film includes previously unreleased versions of 'ITT', 'Power Show', 'Army Arrangement', and a live version of 'Authority Stealing'. Accompanying the DVD is a 2-disc collection of Kuti's best-known songs.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

    Water Get No Enemy (clip)

  • Various Artists - Zambia Roadside

    (Sharp Wood Productions 2003 /SWP 019)

    Various Artists Zambia Roadside

    A unique project to bring together some the roadside talent in Zambia, this compilation is a humble appreciation of the endless musicianship that exists in Africa. It features great songs from Zambia’s Southern Province, home of the Tonga people. There are unique guitar styles (often with self-made guitars) and catchy tunes and rhythms. The harmonies produced by a 40-strong female choir in ‘Shungu Namutitima’ (‘The Water that Thunders’) say it all!

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Femi Kuti - The Best of Femi Kuti

    (Wrasse Records 2004)

    Femi Kuti The best of Femi Kuti

    It is hard to live in the shadow of one of the greatest musicians of our time both in Nigeria and internationally, but I feel that Femi Kuti has done this with style and dignity throughout his won musical career. And this Best of album really does as it says on the tin - you know what I mean! Bringing some of the tracks from both 'Shoki Shoki' and 'Fight to Win', it delivers Femi Kuti's music at its best.

    But more importantly for those who forget that Femi Kuti is a great saxophone player as well, it showcases some of his magical playing. You will also find collaborations with Mos Def (hip hop legend) and others on this album. I am not even sure if I should be sharing this one with you, it is too good! The importance of musicians like Femi Kuti must never be overlooked and just as Fela's mother's political thinking made an impression on him, so Femi has now picked up the torch from his father. This is one of the many new voices of Nigeria that need to be heard.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Do your Best (feat. Mos Def) (clip)

  • Kandia Kouyate - Biriko

    (Sterns Africa 2000)

    This Malian diva is a must for those you think griots can only be men. A woman whose voice is so powerful that you are left with the memory vividly even after the music has stopped and everyone has gone home.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Various Artists - African Reggae

    (Arc Music EUCD 1824)

    BlankCD.gif

    African Reggae is ‘roots reggae’ as opposed to Jamaican Dub and Dancehall, though Ragga (Rap) has become increasingly popular. African reggae has carried on the traditions planted by Bob Marley: the overall result is a lighter and livelier sound. Names to look out for are Lucky Dube, O’Yaba and The Slaves, who are all featured on this excellent compilation.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • Bembeya Jazz National - The Syliphone Years

    (Sterns Africa 2004)

    Bembeya Jazz National The Syliphone Years

    Bembeya Jazz National are one of those bands that don't seem to stop. And like the river from which they took their name from, Bembeya Jazz just flows. Originally formed in 1961, in Guinea, Bembeya jazz continued to actively play until the early 1990s. Their latest offering is a double CD with a collection of favourites, as well as rare recordings, from the 1960s and 1970s. This celebratory album brings home the reasons why many still regard them as ambassadors of African music generally. My favourite will always be the very popular 'Mami Wati'.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Mami Wati (clip)

  • Macire Sylla - Mariama

    (Dejembé-Faré DME20)

    Macire Sylla Mariama

    Often compared to Angelique Kidjo, Macire's style is undeniably smooth. A Guinean-born singer, she is a griot by heiritage, and combines her story telling traditions with Western pop and even reggae. On this album, her band Dejembé-Faré play instruments like the Fulani flute and Mande guitar which enhance Macire's soulful voice beatifully.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Saboui (clip)

  • Lura - Di Korpu Ku Alma

    (Escondida 2005)

    Lura Di Korpu Ku Alma

    Soulful young Cape Verdian singer, Lura played a stand-out performance at WOMAD. Singing in Creole, she draws on West African and Portuguese traditions on this album, spinning tales of nostalgia and exile while tapping out infectious rhythms on a 'tchabeta' (cushion-like drum).

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Vazulina (clip)

  • Atongo Zimba - Savannah Breeze

    (Hippo Records, 2005)

    Atongo Zimba Savannah Breeze

    Atongo Zimba's music is fresh, it makes the heart sing and dance, and more than anything it is filled with talent. The instrument Atongo plays might not sound like anything you have ever heard before - and that is because you probably have never heard it before. The 'koloko' is very similar to the banjo in the way that it is played - but sounds like - well, like I said I can't describe it - it's sweet though! So if you want to know, you will just have to have a listen.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Bédi Bédi (clip)

  • Ellika & Solo - Abaraka! Tack!

    (Xource, 2005)

    Ellika Frissell and Solo Cissoko are two very talented people, but together they become something really amazing. The blending of the fiddle with the kora, as well as their obvious admiration for their very different traditions must be the key to this hugely successful partnership. Swedish and Sengalese all rolled into one melting pot of music.

    This latest album is everything that you should expect from them, and working with musicians such as Seckou Keita and more (many of whom are relatives of Solo's), there isn't a moment to take a breath.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    Gustaf Special/Jimmo (clip)

  • Mory Kante - Sabou

    (Riverboat/ TUGCD1034 605633003420)

    morykantesabou.jpg

    Mory Kante was the first African artist to sell a million singles with 'Yéké Yéké', which topped the European charts in 1988. Sabou is an all-acoustic release by the legendary West African singer and kora player.

    An exceptionally talented griot from Guinea and a contemporary with Salif Keita in the Rail Band back in the 1970s, Mory Kanté has produced a stunning new album of depth and poise that is firmly grounded in his traditional griot roots.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Nafiya (clip)

  • Shiyani Ngcobo - Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo

    (World Music Network/ LC11067)

    Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo

    Maskanda is a music born out of the Zulu experience of labour migrancy at the turn of the 20th century.  As a musical form, it's recognised by the instrumental flourish that sets the tone at the beginning of each song, by the 'picking style' of guitar playing, and by the rapidly spoken sections of Zulu praise poetry (izibongo).

    Shiyani has been working in a duet or trio for ages, but also plays solo, both on guitar and on igogogo - a folk guitar made from a 5-litre oil can, wood, wire, nails; as well as a plethora of traditional and not so traditional instruments and vocal styles from foot rattle to concertina.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Senzeni (clip)

  • Khaled - Ya-Rayi

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 127X)

    Khaled Ya Rayi

    Khaled's first album since 1999 is a truly rousing, 'back to the roots' of 'rai', and the typical Algerian cabaret style which made Khaled, the Algerian super star vocalist. It's not hard to see why Khaled is lovingly regarded as the Algerian Elvis! He's massive.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

  • The Mahotella Queens - Reign & Shine

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 177)

    reign.jpg

    'Queens' is truly what these women should be called. Seven years after they lost their front man Mahlathini, they are still proving to the world that they are more than just backing singers. Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesuthu Mbadu have been in the business for over 40 years, yet have a youthfulness and freshness that most new musicians would cry for. This album really takes you back to where they came from musically, and it's strange to think that in 2006, a lot of it reminds me of those performances of the 1960s and 1970s. I love this album - it is one of the most uplifting and energetic albums I have heard this year - proves that things only get better with age. Enjoy!

    Reviewer: Chino Odimba

    Mbube (clip)

  • Various Artists - World Psychedelic Classics 3 (Love's A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa)

    (Luaka Bop Records 2004)

    World Psychedelic Classics 3  Love's a real Thing: the funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa

    When this landed on my desk I nearly had to chain it to my person - everyone wanted a bit. For this compilation ex-Talking Heads eclectic pop guru David Byrne has unearthed the latest must-hear, must-talk about world music gems.

    The crazy, funky 12 tracks are drawn from a broad spectrum of early '70s West African psychedelic classics. And for those out there who can't comprehend traditional African sounds fused with (the then) prog-electric Western funk - get your ears around this.

    From the Gold Coast to the Cameroon, traversing the territory of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, 'Love's A Real Thing' is an African assimilation of the psychedelic revolution - distorted, political, hallucinogenic and of course infectious. It wills you to get up and dance.

    I consulted a colleague (the venerable Rahul Shrivastava) who's an expert on early '70s progressive, psychedelic sounds - and this is what he had to say:

    'The sax and organ on 'Keleya' by Minsato Le, Mi Dayihome (Benin) is sumptuous.'

    And: 'Better Change Your Mind!' by William Onyeabor (Nigeria) is a rhythmic amalgamation of sensuous Africano beats. Wow - that bassline!'

    I think he liked it - I loved it, and I know you will too. Far out, man!

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Keleya (clip)

  • Suzzana Owiyo - Mama Africa

    (Arc Music 2004)

    Suzzana Owiyo Mama Africa

    Known as the 'Tracy Chapman of Kenya', award-winning Suzzana Owiyo is a vocalist and guitarist known for her strong social conscience. Owiyo's style on this, her debut CD, is close to afropop, not unlike what Angelique Kidjo was doing in the beginning of her career, though Owiyo focuses more on an acoustic sound. The track 'Mama Africa' is a beautiful and sensitive guitar-based song in Swahili. Overall her traditional songs are the best, even if there are great examples of the opposite, like the reggae inspired 'Lek ne Wounda'.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Mama Africa (clip)

  • Julien Jacob - Cotonou

    (Wrasse Records 2005)

    Julien Jacob Cotonou

    A pleasantly laid-back set from this Benin born singer-songwriter, ideal for mellow summer evenings. Julien Jacob has a fine, deep and relaxed voice and mixes African influences with anything from Western pop balladry to reggae, and even Euro-pop, exposing his previous work with French rock bands. My utter favourite tracks are the ethereal 'Cotonou' and 'Maat', an unplugged roots lullaby and a bit of a grower.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Cotonou (clip)

  • Oumou Sangare - Oumou

    (World Circuit/ WCD067)

    Oumou Sangare continues to dedicate her life, music and songs to increasing awareness about women’s lives in Mali. Her passionate and powerful voice is stronger than ever on this CD, a mixture of well-known songs and new releases.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Oumou Sangare - Oumou

    (World Circuit/ WCD067)

    Oumou1.jpg

    This album is certainly a collection of the best of Oumou Sangare's work. Tracks such as 'Maladon' transport you in one quick swoop to sweaty, starry nights under the African moon. Her voice is slowly hypnotic, and it's not surprising that she's been nominated in the Radio 3 Awards for World Music .

    Reviewer : Chino Odinba

  • 2Face - African Queen

    (Kennis Music)

    2Face1.jpg

    2Face is a member of Plantashun Boiz, a very successful hip-hop act whose three members are currently pursuing solo careers. 2Face’s most popular tracks at the moment are ‘Nfana Ibaga (No Problem)’ and the brilliant Reggae-influenced slow jam ‘African Queen’.

    Reviewer : JJC

    African Queen (clip)

  • X Plastaz - Maasai Hip Hop

    (out | here rec/ OH 002)

    xplastaz1.jpg

    X Plastaz consist of three male rappers (Ruff-Nell, Gsan and Ziggy-Lah), a 13 year old girl (Dineh), a 9 year old boy (Steve) and a Maasai warrior (Yamat), all from northern Tanzania. After having tracks featured on European-released compilations (including 'Global Hip Hop' and 'Rough Guide to African Rap'), they now release their first international album, entitled 'Maasai Hip Hop' which has been recorded in Tanzania and the Netherlands.

    X Plastaz make conscious bongo flava, as opposed to the partying sub-genre of 'rap katuni' (meaning 'cartoon rap'), with lyrics dealing with issues such as drugs, unemployment, poverty and child abuse.

    The group are proud of Tanzanian traditional culture and want to encourage Tanzanian youth to embrace it more. X Plastaz mix traditional Maasai a cappella chants with rap in Swahili and Haya. 'Maasai Hip Hop' is a strong album throughout with the stand-out tracks being 'Aha!' and 'Msimu kwa msimu'.

    For more information log on to their website .

    Reviewer : JJC

    Aha (clip)

  • Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako

    (Because Music/ All Other 3099952 )

    Amadou et Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako

    This is my predication for 'album of the summer'! It's the latest release from Amadou & Mariam, the multi-talented and highly inventive Malian husband and wife musicians.

    Their new album 'Dimanche a Bamako' (Sunday in Bamako) is fabulous! It is produced by and features the brilliant Manu Chao, whose unique style of layering and fusing rhythms with everyday sound bites is clearly distinctive. The album has already been a smash hit in France. I'm a huge fan of them and love this album it hasn't left my CD player since I received an advance copy a few days ago.

    Reviewer: Rita Ray

    La Realite (clip)

  • Pounds & Naira Inc. - Bawo Lose Fe/How Do You Want It (Afro Mix)

    BlankCD.gif

    Pounds & Naira Inc. are a group of Nigerian rappers, singer, producer from Walthamstow and Thamesmead. The members are A.Y, Ife, Jordan, Magnum and Kinga, plus a female British-born Indian singer called Min. Their single 'Bawo Lose Fe' (meaning 'How Do You Want It') fuses Hindu, Yoruba and English vocals.

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Sugu - Sugu

    (Social Misfit Entertaiment/ SME 0055)

    Sugu-Sugu

    Sugu, one of the true pioneers of the bongo flava scene, presents his eighth album, most of which was produced by London-based Kenyan producer Sir Prestige, and it features special guests Dineh (of X-Plastaz), Samia X, and Plan B (of Real Elements). An interlude comes courtesy of Kenyan superstar DJ Pinye, a definite seal of approval.

    Lyrically, Sugu tells it like it is and his songs deal with prostitution, street children, emigration and so on. The first single off the album, the catchy 'Moto Chini', is already a hit in Tanzania. Another stand out track is the opener 'Kwenye Mbio' with its jazzy influences.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Kwenye Mbio (clip)

  • Mountain Black & Mad Melons - Danfo Driver

    Mountain Black & Mad Melons Danfo Driver

    Mountain Black & Mad Melons’ Reggae track ‘Danfo Driver’ is a big, big tune in Lagos at the moment. The duo are actually former danfo drivers (a ‘danfo’ for those who don’t know are the yellow mini buses in Lagos).

    Reviewer : JJC

    Danfo Driver (Ragga Version) (clip)

  • Hamza El Din-Escalay (The Water Wheel)/ Oud music

    (Nonesuch/ LC 00286)

    Hamza El Din Escalay The Water Wheel

    For a serious taste of the oud, North African lute, check out Sudan’s Hamza El Din. Born in Nubia, Hanza El Din grew up with the sensuous, rhythmic music of the people of the Upper Nile. He brings together great mastery of the oud with new musical patterns growing out of the vocal music and drumming of traditional Nubia.

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • Wawesh - Mjana

    (white label)

    Wawesh Mjana

    Swedish-based Kenyan rapper/producer Wawesh is part of Watu Wangu, a forthcoming collaborative album project starring a collective of young talented UK-based Kenyan artists as well as DJ Edu (BBC 1Xtra) and producer Sir Prestige (Social Misfits). Wawesh's bouncy debut single is one of the hottest African hip-hop tunes right now.

    After early support from tastemakers in Kenya such as DJ John (Homeboyz) and DJ Pinye, the tune is now on heavy rotation all over Kenya and has started to create a buzz here as well. Guaranteed to rock any party, 'Mjanja' has an addictive hook and shows of Wawesh's tight flow.

    Wawesh, aka Robert Wawero Kiboy, emigrated to Sweden as a young boy in the mid-80s. He has produced and released several artists on BlaO Entertainment, a label he co-founded.

    For more information log on to his website .

    Reviewer : JJC

     

    Mjana (clip)

  • King Khalid - Axeeya

    (Waryaa Entertainment)

    King Khalid  Axeeya

    This newcomer to the Somali music scene is based in West London.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Axeeya (clip)

  • Albert Nyathi & Imbongi - Welcome to Zimbabwe (land of contradiction)

    (Equator Records/ EQRAI10CD)

    Albert Nyathi and Imbongi  Welcome to Zimbabwe

    This is the debut international CD from Zimbabwe’s most influential dub poet and his band. It contains poetry and songs in which he travels with the listener through Zimbabwe’s social, economic and political history so far. Describing the album Albert says "My music is fusion, it's dance, poetry, Afro dance, blues and pop, my band is basically a dance band."

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Mohi (Shegoband) - Shukansi Paltalk

    (Shego Records 2003)

    Mohi (Shegoband) - Shukansi Paltalk

    The singer Mohi is produced and accompanied by Shegoband, leaders in spreading the music of the Barawin community of southern Somalia around the globe. They produce new and unusual songs about current issues:  the title of the album refers to internet relationships.

    To find out more visit their website

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Lugooya (clip)

  • Sami Yusef - Album Al-Mu Allim

    (Awakening/ awakcd01)

    Blank-CD.gif

    Sami Yusef expresses his devotion to Islam through vibrant music and encourages the youth to be proud of their religion and identity. A poet, composer and multi-talented musician, his album 'Al-Mu Allim' (meaning 'The Teacher) is exquisitely crafted and takes listeners on an emotional journey, charged with middle-Eastern harmonies.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Blank-CD.gif (clip)

  • Ali Farka Toure - Red & Green

    (World Circuit)

    Ali Farka Toure Red and Green

    At last, for the first time in over a decade, music fans can get hold of the classic 'Red and Green' albums by the great Malian musician Ali Farka Toure. First released on vinyl in 1979 and 1988 (titled only with the artist's name and known by the colouring of their original sleeves), these albums have been digitally remastered from the original master tapes and presented as a two CD set. The mesmerising sound of West Africa's greatest bluesman at his best!

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

  • Magool - Xaliimo Khaliif Magool

    (Somali Hall of Fame Entertainment)

    Magool Xaliimo Khaliif Magool

    A greatest hits CD from Halima Khaliif Magool,a big figure in Somali politics and culture who recently passed away. She was nick-named 'Hooyaadii Fanka', which translates as 'the mother of the Somali Art of singers'. Magool had a distinctive voice that could not be mistaken for any other.

    Reviewer : Awale Kullane

    Magool (clip)

  • The Mahotella Queens - Reign & Shine

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS 177)

    The Mahotella Queens Reign and Shine

    Queens' is truly what these women should be called. Seven years after they lost their front man Mahlathini, they are still proving to the world that they are more than just backing singers. Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola and Nobesuthu Mbadu have been in the business for over 40 years, yet have a youthfulness and freshness that most new musicians would cry for. This album really takes you back to where they came from musically, and it's strange to think that in 2006, a lot of it reminds me of those performances of the 1960s and 1970s.

    I love this album - it is one of the most uplifting and energetic albums I have heard this year - proves that things only get better with age. Enjoy!

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

  • Various Artists - Lagos Stori Plenti (Urban Sounds from Nigeria)

    (Out Here Records/ OH 005)

    Various Artists Lagos StoriPlenti Urban Sounds from Nigeria

    WOW WOW!!! I knew Nigerian city music was good - but until I heard this compilation I didn't realise how good. From the first song 'I am a Nigerian' by Terry tha Rapman, I was smiling. I am a Nigerian, you see, so I take great joy in singing those words. The whole album demonstrates maturity and progress in the Nigerian hip-hop scene. Some songs are strangely reminiscent of the upbeat and carefree sounds of early hi-life. Some names are familiar also like the talented JJC & 419 Squad and Weird MC - the only female artist on the compilation. Others simply take you by surprise - in a very good way!

    Nigeria may be one of the craziest places in this world but it has always been a big player in international music - and this album just proves that.

    Reviewer : Chino Odimba

    I am a Nigerian by Terry Tha Rapman (clip)

  • Oliver de Coque - Vintage Hits Vol 4

    (Olumo Records/ ORCD004)

    Oliver de Coque Vintage Hits Vol 4

    In 'People's Club of Nigeria' this skillful singer, innovational composer and erstwhile guitarist, has been able to record a milestone - a record which may be difficult to beat by other Nigerian Highliffe musicians, if it can besurpassed at all.

    Reviewer : DJ Ify

  • H20 - Amanzi'mtoti

    (Outrageous Records OUT(MW)002)

    h20cd.jpg

    One of South Africa’s most promising new hip-hop acts is H20. H20 are two Soweto-born rappers, Siphiwe Norten and Menzi Dludla, who have recently released their debut album through South African independent Outrageous Records, a label affiliated to the Rage web site.

    The album title 'Amanzi 'Mtoti' means “Pure Water” in their native Zulu which is the language they predominately use (plus some English). The jazzy ‘It’s Wonderful’ is their biggest  hit to date (featured on ‘Mzansi Music’).  It shows the duo’s strength: catchy melodies, great rapping and meaningful lyrics. Siphiwe and Menzi rap about their experiences of life in the townships, such as ‘Enuff Is Enuff’, or wider African issues such as the reggae-flavoured track ‘African’ (which contains beats by Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B).

    Reviewer : JJC

  • Tiken Jah Fakoly

    (Wrasse Records/ WRASS159)

    Tiken Jah Fakoly

    A combination of Tiken's hit albums 'Coupe de Gueule' (2004) and 'Francafrique', both recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, with an impressive rhythm section featuring Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Tyrone Downie (also the album's producer). Originally from the Ivory Coast, Tiken Fah Jakoly fuses pulsating African reggae with hard-hitting lyrics that speak out on the political and social issues between Francophone Africa (although not exclusively) and France.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Francafrique (clip)

  • Ballas says No!

    Balas says No!

    And when Ballas says 'no' – he means 'no!' No more lies, no more mosquitoes. Lyrics are his repellent and music is the medium to draw attention to the bad and evil regimes in most parts of Africa and other parts of the world. But who is Ballas D’Afrique?

    Ballas, along with producer Giress M’Badinga are fellow musicians living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne. Giress is the founder of Newcastle’s first African music label Igarka Music, and Ballas is his number 1 rising star. Igarka’s first major release is ‘No More: The Truth, Passion, Love and The African Determination to End Poverty and Mosquitoes’, but not the annoying, biting, flying variety, in this case, the term mosquitoes has been used to symbolise corruption and it’s perpetrators such as dishonest politicians and officials etc.

    Ballas’s music is very much reflective of modern Africa – and it’s many styles and influences from reggae to hi-life sung in French, Meduimba and English; as well as references to traditional styles such as Yalloh, Makossa and Soukouss. Standout track is the opener ‘No More Lies’, a joyful, attention grabbing rhythmic dance number with Sebene style guitars and melodic vocals as well as the ‘cheeky’ call and response banter, often heard in Hi-Life. Backing vocals, provided by Sarah, a local English woman add another layer and a rounded cosmopolitan sound. Lovely. All tracks are written by Ballas. 'No More' is well worth a listen as an example of the new sound of pan-Africa – live and direct on your street.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Ballas Nomorelies (clip)

  • Tic Tac - Wope

    (TN Records)

    Tic Tac Wope

    This Hiplife superstar from Ghana delivers a fusion of African hip hop and high-life, in his local dialect of Twi and English. 'Wope' (translated 'Do you like it?') is dedicated to the Africans within the Diaspora. It features collaborations with Abrewa Nana and Feho from Ghana and Nigerian star Tony Tetuila (of 'My Car' fame). In fact it is his song with Tetuila, the explosive 'Fefe Na Efe', which has become his biggest hit to date.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Fefe Na Efe by Tic Tac feat. Tony Tetuila (clip)

  • Various Artists - Think Global: West Africa Unwired

    (World Music Network/ RGNET1169CD)

    Various Artists West Africa

    Think Global is the new label from World Music Network with the attractive strapline 'End Poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment!' - via a superb collections of cutting edge music from around the world.

    In partnership with Amnesty International and Oxfam, all Think Global releases use only 100% recycled card with no plastic tray or plastic jewel case! But what's the music like?

    From the sumptuous, sparkling koras (the West African harp) of Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko to the acoustic guitar legends Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck, 'West Africa Unwired' presents some of the most beautiful classics from the acoustic West Africa repertoire.

    Featuring bluesy sounds from Mali, Wodaabe music from the Sahelian savannah and Manding rhythms, this album features griots, musical giants and rising stars, who reveal the vitality of these timeless and exceptional songs.

    'West Africa Unwired' is a rather laid back and grown-up collection hinting at West Africa's classical and folk-roots rather than the frenetic dance orientated beats many of the contributing artists are best known for.

    This is the kind of CD that would make a great gift or starter for someone dipping their toes into the lighter side of West African music. A delight!

    Artists include Baaba Maal & Mansour Seck, Diénéba Seck, Mory Kanté, Toumani Diabaté & Ballaké Sissoko, Nuru Kane, Kanté Manfila, Issa Bagayogo, Mah Damba, Daby Balde, Djeli Moussa Diawara & Bob Brozman, Grand Papa Diabaté & Sona Diabaté, Etran Finatawa and Boubacar Traoré.

    Reviewer : Yve Ngoo

    Toub by Nuru Kane (clip)

  • Cheikh Lo - Lamp Fall

    (World Circuit)

    CheikhLoLampFall.jpg

    This is the Senegalese musician's first new album in five years and was recorded in Dakar, London and Bahia, Brazil. M'balax, reggae and jazz rub shoulders easily with funk, flamenco and Congolese rumbas.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    N'Galula (clip)

  • Cheikh Lô - Lamp Fall

    (World Circuit/ WCD 073)

    CheikhLoLampFall.jpg

    'Lamp Fall' is dedicated to Cheikh Ibra Fall, disciple of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba and the founder of the Baye Fall religious brotherhood, of which Cheikh Lô is a devoted follower. The Baye Fall are famous for growing dreadlocks and wearing multi-coloured gowns. Musically the album mixes m'balax, flamenco, reggae, soul as well as Cuban and Brazilian music. The track 'Sénégal-Brésil' is a perfect example of the more Latin influences. 'Lamp Fall' is a must-have for any African music fan.

    Reviewer : JJC

    Sénégal Brésil (clip)

  • Various Artists - From High Life To Hip Life (50 Years of Independence)

    (Sterns)

    High Life Hip life_CD.jpg

    From High Life to Hip Life is a musical history of the development of highlife through to Hip Life the country’s popular music of the last decade. The compilation includes guitar band styles, funky highlife gospel and cultural forms of music. It features Osibisa the first African band to have hits in the UK, and King Ayisoba and many more. Have a listen to King Ayisoba ’s 'I Want To See You My Father'. ( to be released in summer 2007 )

    Reviewer : Rita Ray

  • The Mahotella Queens - The Very Best of the Mahotella Queens

    (Manteca/ MANTCD060)

    The Very Best Of The Mahotella Queens

    With their infectious, energetic beat, complex and experimental rhythms and flawless vocal harmonies, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens re-invented South Africa's urban music and gave shot of adrenaline to South Africa's then flaggering music industry by creating Mbaquanga, a mixture of Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa music fused with Marabi also known as South African Jazz.

    The successive deaths of West Nkosi, Marks Mankwane and Simon Nkabinde Mahlathini in 2000 marked a year of tragedy and great loss for the Mahotella Queens. After a long period of mourning the three Queens decided to take continue and carry on the great music they started with their late music partners. This album is a great tribute to that partnership.

       

    Other albums from the Mahotella Queens:

     

    The Best of the Mahotella Queens (2003, Wrasse Records)

    Sebai Bai (2000, Bleu/Indigo)

    Paris, Soweto (1989, Melodie)

    Women of the World (1993, Shanachie)

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Gazzette (clip)

  • Tcheka - Nu Monda

    (Harmonia Mundi/ 023332)

    TchekaNuMonda1.jpg

    Tcheka (aka Manuel Lopes Andrade) from Cape Verde made his name on fellow Cape Verdean singer Lura's debut album, writing the opening and closing tracks. On Nu Monda, his second album, he shows off his talented vocal and song-writing ability as he returns to 'batuque', one of the popular beats on Cape Verde's biggest island, Santiago.

    Reviewer : Shaheera Asante

    Talulu (clip)

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