Chicago Afrobeat Project feat. Tony Allen: What Goes Up (self-released, 2017)

September 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Chicago Afrobeat Project feat. Tony Allen: What Goes Up

Following the imaginative covers album Nyash Up! (Fela mashed up with Radiohead, and also Fugazi! Talking Heads! Vandermark 5! 808 State!!?!), Chicago Afrobeat Project worked with the incomparable drummer Tony Allen on their fourth album, What Goes Up. While Fela’s brand of Afrobeat typically means sprawling groove-based compositions which can last an entire album, this is an album of concise Afrobeat pop songs, all of which feature guest rappers or singers. It’s accessible, but not watered down. The energy isn’t diluted, only concentrated, and all of these songs feel urgent, vibrant, and most of all, fun and exciting. While songs like “Race Hustle” and “No Bad News” are themed around political and social concerns, “Marker 48” touches on a romantic breakup (while starting out by slipping in some political commentary), and “Afro Party” is self-explanatory. The general tone of a lot of these songs, of course, is disappointment and disbelief with the current state of the world — “White Rhino” states that there’s “too much oppression in the first world for it to be the first world”. But the music is always uplifting and joyous, and the album is a total treat.

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