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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Time now to take a listen to some of the best music of 2008. Every day this week, we'll hear a different genre. Today, it's world music, and our guide is Banning Eyre. He's senior editor of the public radio series Afropop Worldwide. His favorite world music disc of 2008 comes from central Africa.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

BANNING EYRE: When it comes to deciding what's a great record, ultimately it's really about the emotional impact, what it makes you feel. The one that I picked is a record by a group called the Kasai Allstars, and it has rather a long name. The name is "In the Seventh Moon, the Chief Turned into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic." I loved this record right from the minute I heard it. I took the advice written on the back: Play it loud.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

EYRE: This is a group that came together in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, but it's actually an amalgam of five traditional groups from the central Kasai region. And what this record really says to me and why I love it so much is that it just tells you something about the Congo, and why it's been such a powerhouse of generating pop music in Africa. I mean, Congo music has been for decades the disco music of Africa, the most popular music. But what you hear when you hear Kasai Allstars is not that at all; it's really just a case of rural music gone to the city. OK, they've added an electric guitar and bass, and they're singing through microphones, but other than that, this is real traditional music.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

KASAI ALLSTARS: (Singing in Congolese).

EYRE: You can listen to a lot of recordings of traditional music in Africa, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that's as funky, as tuneful, as soulful, as passionate, as just overall beautiful as the stuff that you'll hear on this Kasai Allstars record.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

EYRE: It's the sonorities of it, the feeling, the authenticity of it, there's something really hypnotic and mesmerizing and deeply beautiful about the grooves that these people create. It feels like it goes into something just really deep about what pop music is everywhere in the world, something so elemental, something so, kind of, unmediated, and yet it also has this incredible air of mystery about it.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

KASAI ALLSTARS: (Singing in Congolese).

EYRE: Just put this record on and as I say, play it loud, and you will feel it.

KASAI ALLSTARS: (Singing in Congolese).

MONTAGNE: To hear Banning Eyre's top 10 African CDs of 2008, and 25 other top 10 lists, go to nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song "Mpombo Yetu")

KASAI ALLSTARS: (Singing in Congolese).

MONTAGNE: It's Morning Edition from NPR News.

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