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Soul Marrabenta

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Album Review

The sophomore effort from Mozambique's Mabulu is even more cohesive than their debut, Karimbo. A lot of playing together had welded them as a unit, and though their base is still the local marrabenta rhythm, they've become adventurous enough to incorporate a lot more, from the jit-driven opener, "Bula Bula," to R&B-inflected tracks and a lot more hip-hop. Matavel and Djindji, the grand old men of marrabenta, retain a strong influence over the overall sound, but it's young bucks like rapper Chiquito who shine as they drive the music quite firmly into the 21st century. The songs themselves run the gamut from love ballad ("Elisa Mabai") to wise words about "AIDS." This is a band who has found their sound and purpose and isn't afraid to explore all the possibilities. While the vocalists dazzle upfront, it's also impossible not to notice the quality of the rhythm section, who not only understand what to play, but also what not to play, happily laying back (or out) as necessary. A sublime bit of African bliss.


Formed: 2000

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Assembled in Mozambique in 1999, Mabulu is an African pop outfit that incorporates elements of hip-hop and, to a lesser degree, dancehall reggae. The band's producer, Roland Hohberg (who grew up in East Germany but moved to Mozambique in 1990) wanted to bring together different generations of Mozambican talent — and he did exactly that. Mabulu's oldest member is Lisbao Matavel, who has been singing since the early '60s and is a highly regarded veteran of Mozambique's pop scene. Matavel was...
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Soul Marrabenta, Mabulu
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