CHIMURENGA Renaissance’s first mainstream album, riZe VadZimu riZe, got a massive lift as the band became the Most Added Band on the reputed US-based CMJ music charts just a week after its launch.
The triumphant 14-track LP is the musical brainchild of Shabazz Palaces percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire and sees him collaborate with guitarist Hussein Kalonji, femcees THEESatisfaction, M1 of Dead Prez, the Seattle rap group Malitia Malimob , and of course Palaceer Lazaro a.k.a Ishmael Butler.
Out since March 25th on Brick Lane Records, riZe VadZimu riZe makes great use of Maraire’s multi-layered rhythmic vision as he merges acoustic and electronic instrumentation in a unique, yet original way. Here, Maraire demonstrates his production wizardry with sprawling, loosely structured beats that valiantly explores the worlds of Electronica, Dub, Jazz, Chimurenga and Reggae. Sonically, the record dances among styles effortlessly — haunting mbira strums, polyrhythmic conga-drum rhythms, trickling electro-synth tracks and buoyant Congolese Soukuos lead guitar riffs.
Whereas Maraire takes a back seat vocally with Shabazz Palaces, with Chimurenga Renaissance he dominates the mic and the boards, handling raps and singing.
He also approaches rapping directly layering his politically pregnant verses bluntly on top of the psychedelic sprawl of his instrumentation. “Chimurenga” after all all, means “war of resistance” in Shona, so this project points towards a revolution.
Stream the full riZe Vadzimu riZe LP below:
On my personal favorite Race for Cush Naptha, Maraire spits with deliberate political intent, leaving no ambiguity about his opinions. Here he expresses his disdain for crooked cops, fancy sneakers, Mercedes Benzes, fake romances, wealthy corporates, the media…the whole Western capitalist system.
Album standout Go Go Gettem, featuring Maraire’s Shabazz collaborator Ish and a heavyweight in the form of M1, is lyrically, a bulging fireball of a call to arms. The track is matched in production, with the mbira laid as the main rhythmic element on a palette combining synth blasts, programmed beats, and Ngoma African drums.
Photography and Words by: @makiwahenry