Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mzwakhe

  • Change Is Pain [Rounder, 1988] B+

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Change Is Pain [Rounder, 1988]
Child of a Zulu father, a Xhosa mother, and the Soweto uprising, he lives on the run, reciting his poetry unannounced and unaccompanied at weddings, funerals, union meetings: an authentic art hero, and as committed a revolutionary as ever cut an album. Which doesn't mean he can be comprehended out of context. So what's amazing about his first stab at music isn't the incompleteness of the translation, but the power. Before he utters a word there's some halting guitar that could make you weep, and despite the disorderly percussion favored by Black Consciousness bands he powers a South African dub poetry--with intimations of an apocalypse that's lived every day and agape so hard-earned only a Boersymp would doubt it. B+