The Very Best: A Band's Summer Escape With A Message | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

The Very Best: A Band's Summer Escape With A Message

Play associated audio

The high-tech pop intro to The Very Best's song "Kondaine" suggests a carefree summer party. There's Afropop uplift to the sound and Top 40 melodiousness to the vocal.

The words mix English and Chichewa — Malawi's official language — and tell an absurdly frightening tale of a witch doctor's potion. In the song's video, three musicians partake in a gory animal-sacrifice ritual in an African village, at the end of which they turn into goats. That's The Very Best: sun and fun in the sound, and the problems and ambiguities of African life in nearly every lyric.

The Very Best is a fusion of African rhythm and melody with cutting-edge pop and dance music. The founders, Swedish producer Johan Hugo and Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya started out with a successful mixtape posted on a blog. They followed up with a strong debut album, Warm Heart of Africa, and this summer released a second LP, MTMTMK. The band has yet to reveal the meaning of the title, but we do know that the basic tracks were recorded in Mwamwaya's hometown, Lilongwe.

The songs on the album range from folksy melodies to dense reggae, pumping techno club grooves and quirky pop songs. There are impressive cameos, too, including one from Toronto-based Somali rapper K'naan in "We OK."

That track perfectly expresses The Very Best's bold ethic. Even amid poverty, warfare and the privations of ghetto life, happiness is possible. You've heard of Afro-pessimism? Well, call this Afro-optimism: savvy, in tune with life, paradoxical perhaps, but in the hands of The Very Best, hard to resist.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Philip Seymour Hoffman Leaves Indelible Bond In 'Most Wanted Man'

The late actor hit his peak in the adaptation of John le Carre's 2008 novel. The movie isn't a clean piece of storytelling, but Hoffman connects with viewers on a level most actors never approach.
NPR

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.
NPR

Army War College Opens A Probe Into Sen. Walsh's Alleged Plagiarism

The U.S. Army War College has determined in a preliminary review that Sen. John Walsh of Montana appeared to have plagiarized his final paper to earn a master's degree. An investigative panel is reviewing the evidence.
NPR

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.