Milele is an urban Gospel group unlike any other you've heard. Consider it a meld of percolating East African pop with urban contemporary. Their debut album Forever ('milele' is the Swahili word for 'forever'), with production from both Milele themselves and from Uganda's musical genius, Steve Jean, has a luscious edge with mass appeal.Producers: Milele, Steve Jean
album release date: 2001
Daniel, Harry, Harrison, Kanjii are California-based but hail from Kenya, where they first met and formed their musical ministry in the late 1980's. That time together is evident from the tightness of their work sweet vocals and frequent melodic excursions into infectious beats are the order of the day.
A couple of African language tracks mark the project, to go along with the other eleven songs in English. "Sanjolama" is based on Psalms 18:46 ("The LORD liveth; and blessed [be] my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted") and is a joyous ride on pulsating, celebratory guitar from Henry Kariuki, frequently punctuated by four-voice harmony blasts. "Tucheze Ngoma" is an intense, percussive and flute-filled groove.
"The High" throws down the question of 'who you lovin' now', throwing down the musical gauntlet to stay true to God amidst an urban feel and a spread of solo vocals and harmonies. As if to answer that song's query, "Open Up Your Heart" is a straight-up Gospel message laid into syncho-beats.
"Hold On" presents the awesome promise that Jesus is coming again for you and me, and is a vocals-based mid-tempo ballad with soft strings cushioning the melody. On other songs, Milele showcases their flair for edgier music, with the beat-heavy Basement Ragga Mix of "4-Ever" being forefront (the original mix slams too).
Detouring to other musical lands, Milele uses a nice reggae backbeat to propel "Refuge" into consciousness, while "Highway" uses full harmony à la Ladysmith Black Mambazo to call all nations to climb with them up the highway to see God. "My All" is a sweet, laidback, lightly grooved prayer.
Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, Forever from Milele is an eclectic musical buffet that shows their uniquely flava'd ministry. Catch it!
reviewed by Stan North —
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