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Yellela Review

by Alex Henderson

Marrabenta, a style of African pop from the southern part of Mozambique, hasn't been recorded nearly enough over the years -- which has a lot to do with all of the unrest and political turmoil the country has suffered. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony until 1975; after that, it was ravaged by a long and bloody civil war. Eyuphuro, one of the top marrabenta bands of the 1980s, broke up in the early '90s but reunited in 1998 -- a major event for Mozambican pop. This 2001 release is Eyuphuro's first album since the reunion. Although none of the lyrics are in English, World Music Network provides English translations. Eyuphuro's lyrics tend to be quite sociopolitical, reflecting on the lives of people in Mozambique and the African continent in general. "Ohawha" laments the political instability that has troubled various African countries, while "Africa" and "Masikini" address the subject of poverty -- a subject that, tragically, too many Mozambicans have firsthand knowledge of. But despite all of the poverty and political unrest that has troubled Mozambique, marrabenta and other forms of Mozambican pop have survived. Even when Mozambican artists had a hard time recording, they kept writing and performing. The poignant songs on Yellela make one hope that a lot more recording will be done in Mozambique in the future.

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