Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Afrobeat Revolution

note: this was prepared for the forthcoming "Afrobeat Revolution" CD compilation for the Rough Guides out of the UK (check ) that Pablo Yglesias and I co-compiled focussing on different directions contemporary afrobeat has gone. This will be the 2nd of two disks we compiled and annotated for the label. The first, "Afrobeat Revival", should be out in early 2009. That one is discussed elsewhere. Please keep your eyes and ears out for both disks.
This was an introduction to "Afrobeat Revolution" that I wrote. It was replaced, but I think it is a pretty good one. It mentions some of the bands that will be on the disk, namely: the Souljazz Orchestra, Lekan Babalola, Dennis Ferrer, the Afromotive, Albino!, Tony Allen, Ruth Tafebe & the Afrorockerz, Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat, Afrodizz, Fanga, and Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls. Band bios that we wrote will be available with the release of the CD.
Here's the (scrapped) intro:

Music is a weapon.

Concerning the visibilty of Afrobeat music, I have seen the general public knowledge rise from a few people acknowledging an afro-pop artist called Fela Kuti to the near-mainstream term of “afrobeat” that is used quite frequently today. Afrobeat, synonomous with its own king of thunder, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is now a distinct and separate genre in the minds of people everywhere.

Afrobeat can be seen, like reggae, rap, calypso and civil rights era US soul, as well as other forms of protest music from the African diaspora, as a journal of sorts—chronicalling the everyday struggles of folks all over the globe. As the people have spread far and wide, so has the need for adapted and adopted communication systems to report from the front lines. Several artists we have collaberated with here add their own perspectives to the mix, stoking the fire with passion, conviction, and respect for the knowledge they have aquired from the rhythm.

Artists far and wide have offered their gifts to the afrobeat revolution. Infectious since its arrival in the aftermath of a turbulent 1960s, as Fela, Geraldo Pino, Orlando Julius and others lit the fuse—a cocktail of imported James Brown swagger, jazz and highlife from home and abroad, as well as a rising african pride movement. This baby was the bomb! And one that rippled the global soundwaves, setting off action on the shores of places on every continent. Jamaicans like Cedric “Im” Brooks and Big Youth were hip to it, as were the Art Ensemble of Chicago, John Tchicai and Don Cherry. The call was heard all over and today we have this thing bumping from Tokyo to Accra, Israel to Colombia, hiphop to house. The sampling alotted us here is but a tip of the iceburg. Brothers and sisters such as Masters at Work and Wunmi, rapper Ty, indy stars Nomo, Wale Oyejide, Quantic, house producer Kerri Chandler and countless others are in the trenches with us. Soul drummers all.

Those who have followed the recent developments and outgrowths of this rebel music will almost unanimously hail Fela’s resident rhythm master (and musical director) Tony Allen as a major figure in contemporary music. A true human drum-machine, it is simply impossible for one to sit still during a musical episode by the master drummer. His sound may recall machine-gun fire at times and it may take you hostage…only to heighten your awareness of the possibilities that could arise from this jungle we live in.

As the co-creator of the afrobeat movement in the 1960’s Nigerian music scene, Tony Allen now stands as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the living, breathing, and growing (exploding?) Afrobeat Revolution.

Where would we be without Tony’s inspiration. It would be hard to imagine Fela’s afrobeat, Dennis Ferrer’s afro-house, West London broken beat , and increasingly more contemporary hip-hop and jazz without Tony Allen’s original drum patterns. It seems that every college town in the world has a representative to the league of afrobeat. Every major city has its innovative scenes. And every artist displays eclectic influences transmitting via Fela and Tony Allen’s vibrational framework.

Musical soldiers far and wide have championed the cause for freedom through afrobeat. Whether in Lagos or London, Chicago or Paris, there will always be the frustration of souls trying to get over. Each artist travels with these rhythms as their protection. With the heartbeat being the most crucial element.

The revolution is in the rhythm.

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