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Album Review

You have to hand it to Thomas Mapfumo — the man is never afraid to keep pushing at the boundaries of his music. On this disc, which features some young talent as part of the Blacks Unlimited, he not only plays his trademark mbira-based chimurgena music, but also casts his net as far as Mali with "Ndiyani Waparadza Musha," a mix that works very smoothly, mixing two African cultures, while "Set the People Free" is really African rock with an English language rap in the middle — and very good it is. Of course, his basic style forms the heartbeat on tracks like "Tinofara" and "Wandiita Muroyi," with the three mbiras as his rhythm section, the core of his sound. "Chimurenga (The War of Liberation)" reaches out across Africa, and "Sumba Dzenhabvu (The Lions of Soccer)" touches the world with an English-language lyric over a jaunty groove, celebrating the 1998 World Cup. One of the fullest and most diverse albums of Mapfumo's career, it's a sign that he's not going to rest on his laurels and stand still.


Genre: World

Backed by his band, Blacks Unlimited, Thomas Mapfumo has been at the cutting edge of the political struggle in his native Zimbabwe for over 20 years, even as he's become a major figure on the world music scene. Born in 1945 in the small town of Marondera, in the country that was then the British colony of Rhodesia, Mapfumo attended a colonial school and heard Western pop on the radio. Particularly struck by Elvis, he performed Presley's "A Mess of Blues" in a talent show, backed, perhaps surprisingly,...
Full Bio
Chimurenga '98, Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: World, Music, Africa
  • Released: 14 December 1999

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