Best of Seattle: Side Project

Tendai “Baba” Maraire’s father Dumi single-handedly brought the beautiful sounds of the mbira to U.S. shores in the ’70s during his time as an ethnomusicologist at the UW. Tendai carried on the legacy by blending the sounds of that haunting African thumb piano with avant-hip-hop as half of Seattle’s celebrated Shabazz Palaces. But Tendai’s Chimurenga Renaissance project distilled that intoxicating infusion even further, creating riZe vadZimu riZe, an incredibly smart world/hip-hop album that soars thanks to its uniquely multinational roots. Never one-dimensional, Chimuenga’s album works as both an ode to Tendai’s Zimbabwean home and as a wry and challenging observation of black America.

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