Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Staff Benda Bilili: Bouger Le Monde [Crammed Discs, 2012]
Insofar as these beggars and thieves qualify as "roots revivalists," those roots are pop not folk, urban not rural: the liveliest revision of Kinshasa's rumba groove since the speed soukous of Mobutu's mad decline. Horns would be extravagances to professional musicians glad enough not to be sleeping rough anymore, and the guitar parts are rudimentary, with sebene duty done by the vaults and darts of a whining homemade lute that jolts rather than lilts much less flows. But though capable lead vocalist Ricky Likabu and startling high tenor Theo Nzonza don't soar on record the way they do live, both lift audibly out of the wheeled conveyances from which a gang of polio survivors articulated their humanity and launched their inspired hustle. A-