Following their triumphant WOMAD festival appearances (where the Taste the World stage staff said it was “the all-time most emotional performance ever” in the decades’ long series), the Tanzania Albinism Collective return with a set of even more experimental sounds.
Produced by Grammy-winner, Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Zomba Prison Project, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott), the Tanzania Albinism Collective actively pushes the boundaries of what is considered African and “world music,” while continuing to confront the dangers that the collective face daily due to prejudice and persecution at home.
While spending time with the collective, it came to light that it had always been one of the collective’s standout singers, Hamidu’s secret dream to sing. Since he was so often abandoned at home when his mother and siblings ventured out, unbeknownst to anyone else he would sing to himself to curb the loneliness— a classic case of music being medicinal.
The desire to be heard burned in him so keenly that he even once saved up his meager income in order to approach the one and only recording studio on Ukerewe Island. But despite much effort and sacrifice on Hamidu’s part, the studio owner instead turned him away. Angrily refusing Hamidu’s hard-earned shilling, the engineer shouted in Hamidu’s face that he was just “trash,” that no one would ever want to listen to him, and warned him to never return. The studio owner insisted that no matter what, they would never work with Hamidu.
But due to the success of their debut album, White African Power, the members acquired passports and left their homeland for the first time ever. “We had to travel outside of our country to be heard at home,” says Riziki Julius, the collective member who in addition to his musical contributions, created Our Skin May Be Different, But Our Blood is the Same’s cover artwork.
Across a set of songs that explore themes like “Why Are You Killing Us?,” “I Stay Home (The Killings: Part II),” and “My Life (Abandoned),” one would be hard pressed to find a more singular and mournful tune anywhere than the album’s closing track, “Swimming in Sorrows.”
2 Running From the Sun
3 My Life (Abandoned)
4 White African Power (Reprise)
5 I Stay Home (The Killings: Part I)
6 Why Are You Killing Us?
7 Trapped (The Killings: Part II)
9 Swimming in Sorrows