Modern African pop has so many different rhythms and styles that even major experts on the subject have a hard time keeping up with them. The main focus of this addition to World Music Network's Rough Guide series is marrabenta, a style of Afro-pop from the southern part of Mozambique. Striving for diversity, this CD spotlights a variety of Mozambican artists -- everyone from veteran artists like Lisboa Matavel, Dilon Djindji, Francisco Mahecuane, and Alberto Mula to younger artists such as female singer Nene (who has obviously been influenced by South African star Miriam Makeba). Djindji was 76 when this compilation was released in 2001, whereas Nene wasn't even born until 1980. Because of all the political unrest that has existed in Mozambique over the years, it would have been very difficult for a marrabenta compilation to be truly definitive. After Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975, the country suffered a long and devastating civil war; consequently, during the 1980s a lot of Mozambican artists didn't do nearly as much recording as they would have liked. Marrabenta isn't the only form of pop that exists in Mozambique, and this compilation isn't the last word on Mozambican pop -- for that matter, it isn't the last word on marrabenta. But it is certainly among the compilations to start with if you're exploring marrabenta for the first time.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson