MCHIRIKU FROM THE STREETS OF DAR ES SALAAM
Mchiriku seeps from the concrete of Dar es Salaam and the sweat of its suburb: A bricolage of old-style Zaramo drums; a battered stool beaten with sticks; a small Casio hand-held organ hooked to megaphone used years back to make public announcements; singers belting out songs on how to survive in the urban maze faced with unemployment, drugs & alcohol, Aids, unfaithful girlfriends, oppressive relatives; a stage/dance choreography that veers between a non-stop gymnastics workout, concert-party like theatrics & humor, acrobatics, erotic self expression; a performance energy that hits you like so much TNT, or better, like the Jaguar fighter plane that the group took up for its name.
What to do with labels? Call it Afro-punk for sheer noise, for distortion as a creative element, for attitude; there are elements of trance and minimal musics harking back to local precedents in nzumari double-reed horn playing and the hypnotic melodies of the rimba; there is the sexual energy of kuduro and mapouka; the highly charged lyrics compare well to any socially conscious tradition be it rock or rap.
In the Dar es Salaam area they usually perform in street-type surroundings for local celebrations, rarely hired by a bar owner let alone concert halls or bigger stages. Yet over the years they have become one of the prime hits and audience favorites at Zanzibar's annual Sauti za Busara Festival where they performed to high critical acclaim in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011. In summer of 2011 Jagwa Music proved that they can successfully transform the vibe of their Dar es Salaam street performances to the big stage: singer Jackie Kazimoto and crew transformed Roskilde's Cosmopol tent into crazy party that lasted until the curfew at 4 am.