Two of my very favorite African artists - Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi of Zimbabwe and Habib Koite of Mali - have released new albums.
Tuku's new disc, Tsimba Itsoka (which means "No Foot, No Footprint"), is a beautiful collection of songs, but it also conveys an important message: As one reviewer explains, Tuku's "gentle and positive music" calls on listeners "to consider the impact of their behavior, how we each have a personal role in making the world a better place, and how we all choose what marks we leave behind." I just saw him perform live and he explained that while the message may sometimes be difficult, the goal of his music is to beautify and to bring friends together. The show was awesome, and a testament to Tuku's enduring ability to create great new songs and to captivate fans from around the world.
Habib's new album, Afriki, his first studio release in six years, is also filled with fantastic music and meaningful songs. One reviewer calls it "one of the most beautiful and intricately layered acoustic records of the year," while another explains that Habib "is using this album to try and awaken people to the challenges facing Africa." It's another superb disc and I can't wait to see him live (again!).
As I see it, there's as much new and exciting music coming out of Africa today as anywhere else on this planet - so be sure to check out these new albums from two of Africa's most talented and beloved artists.