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Various Artists Urban Africa Club Review

Compilation. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

This fine album is simply a treasure chest of the best artists to have come out of the...

Tessa Grobel 2007

With Urban Africa Club, Georg Milz and Jay Rutledge have decided to compile a legendary journey across nine countries of Africa. They ambitiously sweep across the bongo flava of East Africa, reggaeton hip-hop of West Africa and Kwaito of South Africa treating us to familiar tracks as well as incorporating a variety of underexposed styles which will quickly become more widely known.

Zola opens the album with his track ‘’Bhambatha’’, an upbeat representation of the influential kwaito music which is spreading through South Africa into East Africa. His harsh, driving lyrics in this track come out of the townships of Johannesburg and signify the adverse social and political conditions of post-apartheid South Africa. Lord Ekomy Ndong’s track ‘’Exile’’ takes us to Senegal in West Africa, a region heavily influenced by Cuban music as heard here with the distinctive Kora punctuating a Cuban rhythm.

There’s a new, easy-going sound by the acclaimed Senegalese hip-hop artist Awadi, founder of the Senegalese group Positive Black Soul, whose lyrics seek to raise the consciousness Africa’s diaspora. Some of these tracks, played by the likes of Prof Jay, have been massive in their countries but have only recently broken out worldwide.

The all-girl band Alif see themselves as the voice for their generation; rapping about street life in Senegal. Each event in their lives seems disjointed and detached, yet they draw on this to teach us about respect for pluralism as a source of vitality.

Controversial Somalian-born hip hop artist K’naan treats us to his most famous song, ‘’Soobax’’ (meaning ‘Come Out’), mixing traditional African rhythms with hip-hop. The language and music of Somalia is a mixture of African and Arabic influences and this is evident in the interplay of the Dumbek, with its bell-like timbre and relentless, pounding rhythm.

Finally, the international dancehall voices of duo, Peter Miles and Menshan, echo the reggae touch from Uganda with ‘’One Time’’, a song which became a classic with both the young and old. This fine album is simply a treasure chest of the best artists to have come out of the continent over the last 10 years.

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