Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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South African Rhythm Riot: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto Vol. 6 [Sterns/Earthworks, 1999]
Trevor Herman knows better than any one that compilations suffer when they sneak in artists the compiler has a weakness for, but here he gets a little sentimental anyway. Kwaito is the biggest musical fad of postapartheid South Africa, and the smashes he wanted to include--notably Arthur's "Oyi Oyi," one of those dance hits that sweep all parochialism before them--make the choicest township jive seem more received than it used to. Put it all together and you get patchwork rather than seamlessness: pop stars like Chicco and Brenda Fassie cambering the old rhythms, the socalike single-mindedness of Aba Shante's Arthur-produced "Girls," even a visit from the tireless Papa Wemba. Fairly terrific track by track--I've tried hard enough with Fassie to admire how skillfully Herman flatters her, and I'd rather hear "Oyi Oyi" here than on the megahit album of the same name. But a sampler nevertheless. A-