Chimurenga Renaissance is the duo of Shabazz Palaces' Tendai "Baba" Maraire and Seattle-based guitarist Hussein Kalonji, both sons of big names in diasporic African music. Maraire's father, Abraham Dumisani Maraire, is the mbira master who helped bring the sounds of his native Zimbabwe to the Pacific Northwest; Kalonji's father, Raymond "Braynck" Kalonji, is a Congolese guitar virtuouso, widely known as the pioneer of the Congolese Rumba Soukouss style. "Pop Killer," a song from their recent, self-released Defenders of the Crusades EP, captures the project's unique blend of rap and traditional African instrumentation, setting some razor-sharp invective about the political apathy and commercialism of contemporary hip-hop against a backdrop of tumbling drums and plucked melodies. For the above clip, which we're debuting today, Chimurenga Renaissance traveled to the Great Zimbabwe ruins, the stoney remnants of a majestic 11th-century city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe.
In an accompanying text for the video, Seattle alt-weekly editor and journalist Charles Mudede described the political significance of the group's chosen setting: "Watch the video closely and you will see it is about returning to the past to seek and seriously consider other cultural and economic directions, possibilities. Maraire is not pleading that you accept his and his race's humanness. He is making the much more radical case that the European future is not and never was the only one available to humankind. Zimbabwe, the house of stones, presents a gateway to a future path that was never fully explored." In an email to The FADER, Maraire reiterated the sentiment, describing the video as "an artistic presentation to our ancestors as we continue to spread our culture with innovative compositions, connecting the future and the past." No word on a release date yet, but Chimurenga Renaissance have a new EP—Girlz With Gunz—due out on Brick Lane Records this year.