The Very Best, MTMTMK

Richard Gehr

By Richard Gehr

on 07.17.12 in Reviews

With the departure of Radioclit’s Etienne Tron, The Very Best now consists solely of adventurous Swedish producer Johan Karlberg and co-writing singer Esau Mwamwaya from Malawi. In keeping with that densely populated southeast African nation’s many Western influences, The Very Best’s tougher and poppier sophomore album is a thriving global concern. The video for “Yoshua Alikuti” (“Where Is Yoshua?”), for example, is a local political critique in the form of a ghetto parody of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli,” and much of MTMTMK resembles Billboard’s Hot 100 transformed into dynamic populist-party anthems. “Moto” echoes The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” while album closer “We OK” resembles many a Bruno Mars number — perhaps due to his being one of its six co-creators.

Breaking new ground on at least a couple of continents

Like Warm Heart of Africa, its predecessor, MTMTMK is all over the African map. Along with Mwamwaya belting compellingly in Malawi’s Chichewa tongue, the duo’s top-of-the-Afropops guests — including Nigerian singer Seye Adelekan (“Kondaine”), Senegalese rapper Xuman (“Mghetto”) and South Africa DJ Mo Laudi — represent a new wave of African talent still awaiting Western introduction. The water percussion in “Nkango” might suggest an old-fashioned ramble through “world music,” but tracks like the explosive “Adani” (“Enemies”), in which Angolan kuduro appears to meet the Chemical Brothers, breaks new ground on at least a couple of continents.