Various Artists

Indestructible African Beats

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For many Western listeners, the phrase "indestructible African beats" is associated with contemporary South African music, due to the impact of the 1980s The Indestructible Beat of Soweto compilation. About a quarter of Indestructible African Beats does indeed come from South Africa, but its geographical reach is wider, also taking in music from Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and elsewhere. No dates are given for a few of the 14 tracks, but as the dates for all of the others are from the early 2000s, it's likely that everything was done within a few years previous to its 2005 release date. This isn't as enduring a compilation as, say, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto. But it presents a respectable variety of early-21st century contemporary African music, even if it, like many compilations of the sort, often plugs into tunes with a cheerful steady rolling beat that some non-specialists will find repetitious. The influence of rap and heavy dance percussion is felt on a few numbers -- Alif, indeed, is described in the liner notes as "the first all-woman rap band in Senegal," while Darra J.'s "Boomerang" sets speed rapping to a reggae-influenced rhythm. Others don't bear as heavy a rap/dance influence, with Konono No. 1's "Masikulu" building a dense wall of percussion and chant, and ex-Zap Mama bassist Manou Callo getting close to urban contemporary funk. Salif Keita might be the most well-known performer here, though some of his fans might not have often heard him as he sounds on "Madan," which was given a trip-hop remix by Dutch DJ and producer Gekko.

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