Various Artists

Tales of Urban South Africa

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Kwaito is a popular, uniquely South African form that blends hip-hop, disco, and house music along with some R&B into a very danceable form that at its best is very attractive. This compilation hits a good number of the high spots in recent kwaito, like Mapaputsi with "Izinja" and some very good house, such as Doc Shebeleza. While it doesn't feature the biggest, lasting names in the genre, it paints a good contemporary picture of the state of the music. Even the track listed as "ambient African house," "Tokollo" is less about ambience than laid-back hip-hop. It's all part of the greater spectrum of pop music, but this does give an excellent insight into what's happening in South Africa, and the booklet notes help place everything in context. For whatever reason, it's music that's never made an impact outside its homeland, but the more you hear it, the more you have to wonder why. It's the black South African sound updated -- and brought to the world

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