They called Pepe Kalle the Elephant, an apt moniker for the 300-pound man who was a pan-African star until his death from a heart attack. A homeless child raised by Congolese musician Joseph Kasabele, he had music in his blood, and his slightly husky, bluesy voice was a perfect vehicle. This is what they were listening to in Kinshasa in the ’80s, and though they can't capture his stage antics (including the dancing dwarf!), these tracks are a guaranteed party — especially “Don't Cry Dube” and “Keba Na Mopede,” where the grooves never stop and the guitars ring loud and clean. Kalle isn't as effective on slower material like the unfocused “Karibu,” but get him on the faster, convincing soukous and the man was a demon. At times the ’80s sound (Syndrums and synths) date it, but overall, the music is so convincing and powerful that it can overcome any reservation.
By Richard Gehr on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The world's earliest incarnation of the bass guitar is an instrument of devotional transport among Morocco's Gnawa, the descendents of 16th-century Malian slaves. A master musician (or maalem) plays the sintir, a...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...