Various Putumayo Presents: African Beat

Various Putumayo Presents: African Beat
Launching their World Beat Series in conjunction with their first foray into digital music, long-time purveyor of intercontinental sounds Putumayo keeps the file up-to-date with the releases of Latin Beat and African Beat. Showing that Africa's musical past and progressive future blend together just as wonderfully as ever, new-school artists from the Congo (Fredy Massamba), South Africa (Busi Mhlongo) and France (Les Barons) are united by their love of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Touré, Dr. Dre and Parliament-Funkadelic. Senegal's Lëx Sén growls-and-responds over a British Invasion guitar line before Nigeria's 9ice delivers an Ol' Dirty Bastard garble-rap over Asian strings, covering four continents and 40 years of influence in just under ten minutes. Mali's Afro-Fiesta stands out as one of the album's many highlights, mixing dub and Malian blues into a sweet, stinging, socially conscious jam Damon Albarn wished he'd thought up. African Beat ranks up there with Putamayo's best compilations, but may just be the first that can be deemed "essential." (Putumayo)