2006 release by the single most popular musician in Zimbabwe for over 25 years. Mapfumo draws on such an array of genres - African jazz, classic R&B, Shona spirit music, rock, reggae and a variety of local Zimbabwean styles - that he has formed a completely new style of music, which he calls 'Chimurenga'. Loping rhythms form the bedrock for the groove which is constant, incessant and which underpins the horns, the vocals, the African girl's chorus and chants - it is as unique and in it's own way as influential on his country as Fela Kuti or even western performers such as James Brown.
Mapfumo, born in 1945, is styled the "Lion Of Zimbabwe" because of his unceasing socio-political activism and iconic world profile. Beginning with his involvement in the fight to transform white-dominated Rhodesia into the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980, he has devoted his life to combating corruption and injustice everywhere. Forced into exile by his criticism of Robert Mugabe's quarter-century-old regime, he now lives in the USA. Meanwhile, although he is unquestionably his nation's biggest star, his output is presently banned there. Mapfumo's musical style, a suavely melodic mixture of local triple rhythms, sometimes flavored by reggae and other tributaries, is known as chimurenga
word for struggle). It still packs a punch here, whether fronted by repetitive mbira
(thumb piano) and guitar riffs, church-like organs, rib-crunching bass, close harmony and unison choirs, or blasts of martial brass. His message remains of paramount importance, whether speaking of intimate concerns, such as in the ineffably tender "Mukanzi Wangu," where a wife patiently awaits the return of her husband, a migrant worker, or addressing the commonality of all peoples under God in "Marudzi Nemarudzi." Mapfumo, the poet of righteous conflict, has fashioned a work of singular beauty, power and maturity. --Christina Roden