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LISTEN: Chimurenga Renaissance Mixtape
Gary Suarez , January 18th, 2015 15:12

Tendai Maraire sees connections most others don't, which explains why he's one of the most compelling artists in hip hop today. Part of this stems from having lived in both the U.S. as well as Zimbabwe following independence. "I knew both sides of the fence," he explains. Compared with his work in the obtuse and beguiling Shabazz Palaces, Chimurenga Renaissance has a traditional streak running through it, as depicting on last year’s exceptional Rize Vadzimu Rize LP.

This way of thinking extends to his recent work with Chief Boima, a Brooklyn-based selector who Seattle resident Maraire collaborated with on a brand new mixtape. Debuting today here at tQ, the resulting Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema is an eclectic mix, dotting lines between British psychedelic funk, Tanzanian folk, Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army war songs, and American rap music. "I thought it was a good idea to find a DJ of African descent that also understood hip-hop," Maraire says. "Me and him talk a lot about the disconnect between black people in America and Africans as a whole."

In addition to tracks from Jamaican reggae star Junior Reid, R&B chanteuse Tinashe, and African rap act Zimbabwe Legit, Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema debuts a handful of all new Chimurenga Renaissance tracks, soon to appear on a forthcoming EP called Proud To Be African. "We [Maraire and Hussein Kalonji] have been working with these guys, two members from a group called Mbira dzeMuninga," Maraire says. "They’re really on the forefront of mbira playing." The resulting songs, including the title track and 'Life In The Ghetto' sound like logical extensions of the Chimurenga Renaissance project and its mission, merging hip hop and African instrumentation into something mesmeric and true. As a whole, the mixtape is a concise 49-minute tour of several strands of the African diaspora, and an essential listen.