Various Putumayo Presents: African Beat

Various Putumayo Presents: African Beat
Putumayo presents the soul of Africa immersed into the North American mould of contemporary dance music. Fela Kuti did this decades ago in Lagos when he and his band wanted to funk like James Brown. Of course, attempting to successfully compile a compilation entitled African Beat is no small feat, since the continent has been blessed with a wealth of musical luminaries throughout the decades. Hence why this release falls victim to itself. Over-steeped and ultra-mild, the mix of African musicians and electronic samples more often than not comes across as generic and lifeless. In theory, the concept is interesting. However, it's immediately apparent that many of the necessary elements that make African music fundamentally exciting are lacking on many of the 11 tracks. Rather, a smattering of raw, authentic vocalists backed by ultra-produced electronic drum and keyboard sounds conjure images of North American boutiques that sell fair trade coffee and art crafts. Luckily, Putumayo has received critical acclaim for its past offerings, since this release leaves a fading impression at best. (Putumayo)