Malaika - Mmatswale

2009-09-09 10:44
Search Youtube for the two or three videos of Malaika and you'll discover a barrage of gushy, deferential comments, all going ten – sometime even twenty – pages deep. Read closer and you’ll realise most of these stream in from ex-pats and other miscellaneously displaced South Africans, the world over.

Maybe the cliché is true and most things do seem beautiful from a distance, but reading those comments you can't tell – between WGM Delko and MsYaya101 – who’s supposed to be the ex-pat driven out by outraged discontent, and who’s supposed to be the reluctant émigré, pushed out by a floundering bank balance. Distinction escapes you because everyone is saying the same thing – "Malaika rocks!"

One internet 'lady' gives her opinion on Destiny typing her excitement into staccato keystrokes: "mina i dnt kno wat im doing in UK lol....i miss ome? for sho...mzansi rocks" while another internet 'gent' chimes in: "Great song, always heard it on 5fm, was stunned to hear its an? RSA band."

Malaika – one of the first breakthrough Afro-pop acts in SA – obviously means a lot of things to a lot of people; be they like-minded or literally, as one Italian commenter shows, worlds apart. On their third album, Mmatswale, they keep to the formula that won them hordes of followers while at the same time splashing in a dash of the new by tinting – for example – some of their house-ier tracks with an electronic edge.

On numbers like "Find a Way to My Heart", "Sail Away" and "Ndifuna Wena" expect jubilant, flighty, summer-tinted love songs delivered over hip-swaying arrangements made up of infectious polyrhythmic drums, lo-tempo keys and deep bass-lines that cross in half-way between kwaito and township jazz. "Mmatswale" and "Roma Nna" showcase that patented Malaika sound: gospel-touched, warm and celebratory – as catching as an ululation, trumpet-y and chorus-heavy, guaranteed to get the dance floor heaving under the weight of summer-time revellers breaking into the 'bus-stop'.

The album has its calmer moments, too. Tshedi and Bongani take the opportunity to flex their vocal-chord brawn on the acoustic-driven, poppy, adult-contemporary tracks “Then Came You” and “Farewell” which, admittedly, seem like slow burners if not entirely out of place on Mmatswale. The pan-African unity-driven “I’m an African” is, on the other hand, a pleasant surprise. Very experimental by Malaika’s standards, it sounds like the baby version of the Ivorian hit “Premier Gaou” by Magic System – only steeped heavily in Mzantsi jazz trumpetry.

Looking at the CD cover it’s hard to believe that Malaika arrive with one member short on Mmatswale. When Jabu Ndaba – former third wheel and group co-founder – lost a battle to TB in 2008 it seemed like Malaika would be filing itself into obscurity. However, if Mmatswale and the globally scattered internet comments are anything to go by, it doesn’t seem like this will be happening anytime soon. The group’s making some of their most interesting music to date and it seems they’re getting closer to dealing with that persistent monkey on Afro-pop’s back – Repetitiveness.

As moots1971 (who according to Youtube discovered 2005’s “Muntuza” three weeks ago) would say:

"Could someone please tell me why I cant hold back the tears everytime I hear this song. I don't understand a word of what? they are saying but I am LOVING ITTT".

Well, maybe not the part about the tears, but you get the point.

Afro-pop favourites Malaika return a member short on their third release. Can they live up to former hits like "Muntuza" and "Destiny"?

What to read next: Kalahari

Mmapula 2009/09/17 10:58 AM
Send anything about soaps
dikeledi 2009/09/22 10:44 AM
superb album
khathu 2009/09/22 3:16 PM
i like,i like.its a very nice album indeed
khathu 2009/09/22 3:16 PM
i like,i like.its a very nice album indeed
khathu 2009/09/22 3:17 PM
i like,i like.its a very nice album indeed
refilwe bontle nthai 2009/10/13 12:13 PM
ke rata mmino wa lona,dirang ka thata go tsweletsa puo ya rona.Masego le matlhogonolo
petunia 2009/10/15 9:09 AM
its very nice and good to listen
petunia 2009/10/15 9:09 AM
its very nice and good to listen
petunia 2009/10/15 9:09 AM
its very nice and good to listen
Manoko 2009/11/03 12:59 PM
I like it, what a dream keep up and keep on. Right on.
Lebowa 2009/12/01 7:39 AM
i like it guyz, keep it up and we wont pause supporting u. no matter how tall your fathers were, you can grow even more taller than they were.the sky is not the limit. BRAVO!!!!!!!!!
Ngubane Nomfundo 2009/12/04 8:25 PM
This is your Gift from GOD...and im proud 2 say'' you hv handled yo gift with care' keep up with d gud music ... I love you ...plz come 2 Pmburg...Ncwah
Eunice 2009/12/09 2:18 PM
this is ayoba
karabs 2010/07/24 9:46 AM
i luv u guys u rock ma world....
muzi 2011/06/02 11:39 AM
u're gud guys, keep it up!
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