Saturday, January 03, 2009

Esau Mwamawaya & Radioclit - The Very Best Mixtape

I'm probably very late in my review of this album, but better late than never, right? By now, everyone has heard how Esau grew up in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. How he moved to London and met Radioclit who was selling him a bicycle... Granted, it's a good story, a great one even. It's just that sometimes stories like that can create a false sense of respect for an album.

This is not the case here. This is a legitimately great album. A world album the hipsters can enjoy and an indie album world music lovers can respect. Radioclit pulls his samples from a wide array of sources, but most notably indie favorites such as Architecture in Helsinki, M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend. It's interesting to see how these afro-pop inspired artists mesh with true African artists. It always turns out it works quite well. It's almost as if Esau and Radioclit have used the samples to show each band's own roots, with their own music.

The album starts out jumping with "Kamphopo," an African take on Architecture's "Heart it Races." The track is converted to a sort of steel-drum reggae send up. Later, he takes on M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" (Which is itself a sample from The Clash's "Straight To Hell"). It turns into a great chant along type track, or at least it would be if I spoke Chichewa (Most of the album is in this, the native language of Malawi). "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" borrows the guitar line from Vampire Weekend, but lays traditional African rhythms underneath. It turns out to be the stand out track of the album, and one that I'm sure will be played in dance clubs in the coming year.

The album closes out with a Michael Jackson track, and a Statement from Esau "Thank you for so much buying our mixtape...Oh sorry, I forgot, You got it for free. Watch out for the album coming out soon!" It is due out sometime this year, and if this mixtape is any indication of what to expect, I can't wait.

The album plays through like a perfect party. Up when it needs to be, and just the right amount of mellow to relax with very few missteps.

And yes, it is a free album download from their myspace page. Get it now, before it disappears.

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