Assembled in Mozambique in 1999, Mabulu is an African pop outfit that incorporates elements of hip-hop and, to a lesser degree, dancehall reggae. The band's producer, Roland Hohberg (who grew up in East Germany but moved to Mozambique in 1990) wanted to bring together different generations of Mozambican talent -- and he did exactly that. Mabulu's oldest member is Lisbao Matavel, who has been singing since the early '60s and is a highly regarded veteran of Mozambique's pop scene. Matavel was 62 when Hohberg produced Mabulu's debut album, Karimbo, in March 2000, while the group's rapper, Chiquito (who is also a member of the Mozambican hip-hop group Mad Level) was only 22 at the time. Recording Karimbo proved to be a major challenge -- in March 2000, Mozambique was ravaged by catastrophic floods. Nonetheless, Mabulu managed to complete the CD, which was released by the World Music Network later that year. Other members of Mabulu include Mr. Arssen (who occasionally provides dancehall-style toasting) and singers António Marcus (another Mozambican pop veteran) and Alberto Mutcheca. Meanwhile, Mabulu's rhythm section includes three members of the Mozambican combo Mix Malta: lead guitarist Zoco, bassist Eduardo, and drummer/percussionist Jorgito. Most of Karimbo's lyrics are in the Shangana language, although the CD also contains some lyrics in Ronga (which is similar to Shangana) and Portuguese. ~ Alex Henderson

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