Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hugh Masekela With Kalahari [extended]

  • Techno Bush [Jive Afrika, 1984] B+
  • Tomorrow [Warner Bros., 1987] B-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Hugh Masekela: Techno Bush [Jive Afrika, 1984]
Like Malcolm McLaren with a birthright, Masekela has given up the dull demijazz of his U.S. period and returned to Africa, where he cops riffs and rhythms, calypso raps and organ jive and of course trumpet parts, as cannily as the cleverest imperialist, then serves them up in a highly palatable English-language fusion. Beyond a few leftover dull spots my only cavil is the lyric of the demihit, "Don't Go Lose It Baby"--shouldn't crow so about being a "winner" in a country where the deck is stacked like it is in Botswana. B+

Tomorrow [Warner Bros., 1987]
The words document his losses, his struggle, his oppression as a South African exile. I learned from them, and that's high praise for any lyric. The music documents the life he wants to lead, which is as corny as any other dance-fusion jazz played by musicians overimpressed with their own chops. He has a right to that life, obviously. Just as obviously, I have a right to pursue my own life elsewhere. B-