Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mzwakhe Mbuli

  • Resistance Is Defence [Earthworks, 1992] A
  • Izigi [Footsteps] [CCP/EMI, 1994] Choice Cuts
  • KwaZulu Natal [CCP, 1996] *

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Resistance Is Defence [Earthworks, 1992]
South African pop moves cozy up to African American notions of sophistication, and South African pan-Africanist moves graft a fabricated tradition onto a musical history with no parallel in Africa or anywhere else. Mbuli's fusions are more visionary and more local. Singing or chanting mostly in English or Zulu but occasionally in Xhosa or Venda, his relaxed, pantribal township jive owes all the urban South African styles--mbaqanga, kwela, marabi, even a little mbube. It's pop on South Africa's own terms, too swinging for retro and too jumpy for slick. What's more, this man didn't start out as a musician--like Linton Kwesi Johnson, he's just a poet who loves music enough to do it right. Although he's not as learned as LKJ, his songs are as complete a tour of the apartheid struggle as you're likely to get without reading--and his lyric sheet is a good place to begin. A

Izigi [Footsteps] [CCP/EMI, 1994]
"I Am a Cloud"; "I Am No Longer the Same"; "Richman" Choice Cuts

KwaZulu Natal [CCP, 1996]
even protesting Zulu-on-Zulu violence, he's ill at ease rounding mbaqanga into a vehicle of pop reconciliation ("Freedom Puzzle," "Our Music") *

See Also