Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Samite

  • Silana Musango [Xenophile, 1996] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Silana Musango [Xenophile, 1996]
It's hard to argue with the life choices of a Ugandan who lost a brother to Idi Amin. But when he opened for the gently ecstatic Samba Mapangala and the eternally vigorous Mahlathini at S.O.B.'s, he was a tragedy of "world music." Mapangala and Mahlathini, whose lives haven't been easy either, do what Afropop masters have always done: import American materials for their own uses. Samite is an exporter who treats music like a cash crop, adapting to the master culture rather than from it. On record you don't have to watch his drummer expressing her spirituality, and Bakithi Kumalo can flat-out play bass. But in any context Samite is soft-headed as a matter of principle--and by now, as a marketing strategy too. C+