CSPS Hall — Friday, August 1 at 8 p.m.
Internationally-acclaimed recording artists Mokoomba bring the vibrant musical traditions of southern Africa to CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids this Friday. Mokoomba’s music takes root in the rich musical heritage of the Victoria Falls region of Zimbabwe while embracing contemporary styles like funk, reggae, hip-hop and R&B. This is the kind of world music that will make almost everyone feel like dancing.
One of the band’s recent singles, “Njoka”, serves as a fine introduction to Mokoomba’s sound. The song begins with a catchy, rhythmic guitar part that recalls the African harp, the kora. A human beat-box and funky bass line anchor the song in more contemporary styles while the vocals hint at R&B and hip hop. Despite the diverse influences evident in the song, it never loses focus or energy.
The group’s lyrics command attention as well though you may not be able to understand a word. Mokoomba’s vocals are usually in Tonga, a language little-known outside of the Victoria Falls area. Some of the words take inspiration from Tonga proverbs and parables still relevant to modern life. Fear not, Mokoomba’s tight melodies and captivating poly-rhythms have no trouble crossing the language barrier.
If you’d like to know more about the band’s life experience in Zimbabwe, be sure to check out the BBC’s fascinating mini-doc. Band members discuss a song inspired by the Tonga initiation rite that young males undergo. This is also the time when young musicians discover and develop their talents. The video features Mokoomba’s ensemble vocal parts, one of the most captivating aspects of their songs.
Mokoomba is in the midst of a North American tour in support of their latest release, The Rising Tide. Don’t miss their show tonight at 8 p.m.