Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Afrobeat Revolution Is Here!

A bit more than a Rough Guide, if you ask us -- actually a great little set that capable shows the range of Afrobeat and and funk in a new generation - Dusty Groove

DJ Andujar and I put our hearts and souls into this one, folks. With a lot of help from my friend DJ Andujar, a man of immense musical knowledge and a willingness to share, I worked on this for over a year, and it shows; and of course we couldn't have done it without all the great bands, musicians, vocalists, and visual artists involved - plus, we couldn't have put together such an awesome package if World Music Network and Phil, Brad, and the rest of their crew hadn't believed in us and had the vision to put out two double albums of afrobeat! In fact, it was arguably the audacious idea to make a double CD of contemporary afrobeat for a label that only ever did single CD compilations that inspired Phil, the head of the label, to make it a two part series, and start his new policy of including a bonus disc from one featured artist, a unique 2 for 1 approach that has everybody talking about how cool the new packaging and marketing of Rough Guides is today! It's a real value, and quite popular with the customers; one you don't see every day and a welcome value in this economic climate. The second bonus disc concept continued with my Rough Guide to Gypsy Music and Merengue, as well as many other new R.G. titles worth checking out.

Every one of the artists on Afrobeat Revolution, including the Fela cover artist Lemi, thought this was a great project and wanted to be a part of it. There are other afrobeat and afrofunk comps out there, and some of the early ones served as my inspiration, to be sure. But there is nothing like Afrobeat Revolution! From the songs to the packaging, we are really proud of this (can't you tell?).

I was glad that graphic magician Lemi was cool enough to let me mess about with his art and assemble the covers for the CDs - thank you Lemi, it was a real thrill to work with you, you are a genius and you carry Fela's vision in your heart and hand. I am only sorry we couldn't fit more bands on here, but as it is, there are so many hours of afrobeat to enjoy on here, you will dance till you drop, and then you will start to think, as you lie there panting! This one is the next step after Afrobeat Revival - it takes you beyond into new territory, where the confines of what Tony Allen and Fela Kuti and their crew from the Kalakuta Republic initially set up, are burst wide open and take you beyond.

The bonus compact disc by Kaleta & his band, Zozo Afrobeat, is called "Country of Guns", previously only available on vinyl LP as an import from Germany, and it is incredible - Kaleta is a VERY MULTI-TALENTED soul, and it has been great getting to know him and his fascinating history. He played with everyone from King Sunny Ade to Fela! Check him out on the web or better yet, catch him live. Andujar & I wrote the notes and you get the full story so pick this up and read about Kaleta's amazing journey from Benin to Lagos to New York, plus the stories of all the other bands too. Brothers and sisters, let us be your guide to the funkiest music from the Motherland and the Great Diaspora. Like Fela said, music is the weapon, a weapon for peace, love, and overstanding!
- DJ Bongohead

We welcome a new CD compilation, "Afrobeat Revolution", which will hit the streets worldwide on Tuesday, October 13th. London-based world music specialists Rough Guides (a subsidiary of World Music Network) will release it. This is the follow-up to "Afrobeat Revival", released earlier this year. Compiled by DJs Bongohead and Andujar, both located in Western Massachusetts, USA, these CDs survey the contemporary Afrobeat scene, including several of the Revival groups and Afrika 70 offshoots, as well as the artists pushing the attitude in new directions. All of this under the stylistic and spiritual influence of the Afrobeat creators, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Master Drummer Tony Allen (who is featured on four tracks on these discs).

"Afrobeat Revival", released in the Spring on the Rough Guides imprint, documented the new wave of international Afrobeat, including former Fela associates Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi and Akoya's Kaleta, along with Fela's youngest son, Seun Kuti. In tribute to Fela, several other groups sprouted around the world. The likes of Antibalas, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Femm Nameless, Boston's Superpowers and Mr Something Something (featuring Ikwunga) each contribute a song. Another of these contemporary groups, Kokolo, contribute an entire bonus album! This double CD set has received positive reviews in several publications, such as Wire and Songlines.

"Without Tony Allen there would be no Afrobeat"-that was Fela Kuti's own view of the dance groove he gave to the world. Allen's superbly subtle funk provided the music's vital heartbeat, and a track by the great drummer opens this exploration of Fela's legacy. There are other Lagos connections via Fela's youngest son Seun Kuti, and London based Dele Sosimi, formerly of Fela's Egypt 80. But Afrobeat is in the ascendent in North America, and groups from Boston, Toronto, Chicago, and New York bring their own urban accents to this hypnotic, yet confrontational style. New slants rather than radical departures, but some, such as the Latino inflections of Brooklyn's horn-driven Antibalas, are really persuasive. And Afrobeat's political edgeis kept razor sharp by the clumsily named yet impressive Canadian sextet Mr Something Something And Ikwunga The Afrobeat Poet.

The above review by Julian Cowley, appeared in Wire

"Afrobeat Revolution" reports on the new Afrobeat soldiers and the multitude of directions the sound has developed. This one has artists from all over: Canada's Souljazz Orchestra and Afrodizz, North Carolina's Afromotive, Albino! from the west coast, as well as Fanga, Ruth Tafebe, house music producer Dennis Ferrer, Nigerian percussion master Lekan Babalola (remixed here by Mark de Clive-Lowe), free jazzer Ted Sirota and Afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen. Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat offer us a bonus album, their crucial "Country of Guns".

Both of these discs are compiled by the Andujar & Bongohead team, with collaborative notes. The cover art on both CDs feature the work of Ghariokwu Lemi (former Fela cover artist). These CDs are available worldwide through such outlets as Amazon, Dusty Groove, Target, Barnes & Noble, Newbury Comics, and more. Ask your local outlet to enlighten the masses by carrying these compilations. You may also order these and other Rough Guides titles through World Music Network.

The groups on these albums deliver the Afrobeat rebel sound and message to us through this music of now. Consider the gifts and accept the knowledge.

Thanks. - DJ Andujar

Here are some images to get our juices flowing - some of the musicians in the two compilations, and some cover art by Lemi. Enjoy!

Fela Kuti

Tony Allen

Seun Kuti


Lekan Babalola

Antibalas (shout outs to Martin, Bosco, Sugarman, & Chico Mann!)

Ted Sirota

Ray Lugo & Kokolo

Ray and Kokolo

Kokolo again (can't help it, Ray's an old friend!)

Chicago Afrobeat Project's drummer, Marshall Greenhouse

Ikwunga, The Afrobeat Poet

Mr. Something Something

Chicago Afrobeat Project

Dennis Ferrer

Toli Femm Nameless

Souljazz Orchestra





Ruth Tafebe


Dele Sosimi

"Kakadu" - an inspirational bit of Lemi art that got me wanting to work with him - thanks for sending me this man. Sorry it's so small and thin.

Lemi working on a painting (see my earlier entry on him).

Felaosophy, the source painting by Lemi I used for the Afrobeat Revoultion CD cover.

Lemi's depiction of a typical day in Lagos, Nigeria.

This is one of Lemi's portraits of a Fela fan! Yow!

The final cover art I put together for Afrobeat Revolution!