Music: Live and Die in Afrika – Sauti Sol


The third album from Sauti Sol (and my review) is here. And it is not only beautiful because the album is beautiful and classically done – in one of my favourite themes, the royalty of African people – and not just because you can get the album in limited edition materials like wood – but also because they produced it all by themselves. For a first time production masterpiece – indeed, for any time – they did a brilliant job. And on top of all that, the listening/launch party was the likes of which I have never seen before, where each room of a manor was taken up by a song – ‘Nishike’ was playing on a screen with rose petals all around it to watch Bien do that thing he does at 0:38. ‘Say Yeah’ had the talented stylings of Marion Munga and Stan (otherwise known as the soulful singer with two right feet) doing a sensual kizomba to go with the melodies. And on the rooms went all through the album.

The title track, Live and Die in Afrika…Sauti Sol have long been talking about how in love they are with Africa – in a past interview I did with Bien, he talked about how it is time to do an album and performances for people who don’t just appreciate their music, but understand it as well. And boy, did they deliver.

Live and Die in Afrika, from the video to the lyrics, bids gratitude and deep affection for the motherland, celebrating heroes like Mandela and the heroes they want to become. Suffused in the melody is a twang that embodies an Asian instrumental feel – which is part and parcel of any Kenyan culture – and a repeated bass timbre that reverberates through your body that gets particularly delectable at the bridge. As has been characteristic of a number of tracks on this album, they sample a catchy beat that you might recognize from your childhood – the opening notes of the theme song of the soap opera, Escrava Isaura.

And you notice this, all through the album. One of my favourites, It’s Okay, Song number 5, sounds like a distinctively familiar old rhumba track; and of course, Shake Yo Bam Bam, which makes you want to shake yo bam bam, is a mish mash of nostalgic rhythms, like Lumidee’s Uh Oh and an Awilo Longomba song (understandable, as he helped co-write the song), and Sergio Mendes’ Mas Que Nada.

There are a few you already know that they had released, like Sura Yako (pretty much a wedding/romance essential at this point), Isabella and Nerea – 6 in total. I enjoy the newer offerings, – Dollar Dollar is addictive, and Kuliko Jana is bound to be a gospel hit – in spite of or maybe because of, the sampling. I am also enjoying the easy listenability of the entire album. Granted, it isn’t Mwanzo or Sol Filosofia – but these guys are not trying to make it be that either. There is a very definite shift from what they once were, and though I miss the old days, I can appreciate the new ones. It’s an album worth buying.


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