The story of Chicago Afrobeat Project begins a short 15 years ago.

In 2002, a group of musicians sharing a common interest in West African rhythms met to jam in a West side artist loft on Chicago’s Lake Street. Quickly they realized that mixing afrobeat with Chicago house, indie rock, hip-hop, or jazz opened new avenues for experimentation. Something clicked. The group had found a collective calling.

Fast-forward 15 years, hundreds of tour dates, and four studio releases, and the group has found ways of interpreting afrobeat through American urban sounds. Through it all, CAbP has been at the center of the emergence of the North American afrobeat scene. In its newest release, What Goes Up (September 29, 2017) the band features special guest and legendary innovative drummer Tony Allen, as well as many Chicago vocalists and MCs.

Allen, once exclaimed by Brian Eno as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived,” plays kit on all 10 tracks, recording his signature beats behind the band and vocalists. This collaboration makes Chicago Afrobeat Project the first American afrobeat band to produce a full-length studio record with Tony Allen.

Taking the vocal helm on the album are Akenya (Noname, Chance the Rapper), JC Brooks, Kiara Lanier, Legit (Chance the Rapper), Ugochi, Oranmiyan and Rico Sisney/Maggie Vagle (Sidewalk Chalk). The band’s new vocal-laden approach makes the songs of What Goes Up concise and intentional, and markedly different from CAbP’s prior recordings.

A staple of the American live music scene for years, the band’s live show now combines its historically instrumental style with the new vocal approach. Crowds feed off the spontaneity of the soloists and enthusiasm of the band.

Chicago Afrobeat Project has been a 100% independent artist since day one, with its new release What Goes Up following suit.

World Music Central Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Tom Orr appeared originally on World Music Central.

As a longtime fan of Afrobeat music, I was greatly interested when I heard that Chicago Afrobeat Project would be collaborating with drummer Tony Allen. Allen, after all, was the man behind the kit for all of Fela Kuti’s groundbreaking records and was just as instrumental (pun absolutely intended) in creating the Afrobeat style. What Goes Up (Chicago Afrobeat Project, 2017) does not disappoint. Allen’s militantly polyrhythmic drumming is as spot on as ever. He also brings the experimental feel of his recent works, so the album isn’t simply formulaic Afrobeat but rather an effective blend of contemporary textures (including measured doses of rap) and traditionally-grounded grooves.

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From the Trib: “Chicago Afrobeat Project thrives alongside Fela collaborator”

This article by Greg Kot originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

In some ways, the Chicago Afrobeat Project’s decade-plus career had been building to the moment in 2013 when band members found themselves in the same recording studio with one of their heroes, Tony Allen, the drummer on many of the greatest recordings by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti in the 1970s.

Afrobeat, a rhythmically demanding, politically charged interpretation of American soul and R&B that Fela popularized in his native Nigeria and then took around the world, was defined in many ways by Allen’s drumming. Since establishing itself in West Side jam sessions, the Chicago Afrobeat Project has been using Fela’s innovations as a jumping-off point for its own multigenre compositions and dance concerts.

So when Allen, now a resident of Paris, visited the Midwest a few years ago for a workshop and concert, Chicago Afrobeat Project persuaded the legendary drummer to set aside some time to record two songs with the band at Fullerton Recording Studios in Logan Square, which is run by the band’s keyboardist Kevin Ford.

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Sat, 12/16: Album Release Party @ Reggie’s in Chicago!

Time to celebrate! On Sat, December 16 we are putting on a very special show with many featured guests to celebrate the release of What Goes Up. Guests include JC Brooks, Ugochi, Legit, Akenya and more. Our dancers will help get you down, and to help kick off the night expect full sets from our friends Sam Trump Soul Vortex, Fury Hip Hop, and Future Rootz (DJ sets). Doors will be buzzing at 8PM.
Advance tickets are $13 with vinyl packages starting at $30. Yes, VINYL!
Oh, and we’ll be debuting NEW music as well! Get your tickets online while you can.
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CHIRP Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Mike Nikolich originally appeared on CHIRP.

As a teenager, I began listening to African stations via shortwave radio, a hobby I still enjoy today. Through this medium, I discovered West African artists like King Sunny Ade, Malian guitar virtuoso Ali Farka Touré and Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti.

Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, my wife and I were regulars at the legendary Equator Club, near Broadway and Lawrence, and we had the chance to see many of these wonderful artists up close and personal.
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Exclaim! Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Jason Parker Quinton originally appeared on Exclaim!

The righteous assertions of Afrobeat’s sonic revolution are most present in our culture as polyrhythms that are pervasive in genres from pop to hip-hop.

This record by the venerable Chicago Afrobeat Project continues their legacy of releasing music true to the tradition of Fela Kuti while including pieces of blues, jazz, hip-hop and other strands that inflect the sound of the Windy City. For this magnificent collage, they were astute to hire Kuti collaborator and versatile beatsmith Tony Allen. His percussion keeps the sound rooted deep in Africa, as the gang of talented Americans ably change lanes from the traditional to the avant-garde, cruising confidently on timeless grooves.
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World Beat Int’l Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article originally appeared on World Beat International.

Pizza and music; one ultimately edible and one possibly edifying, both consumed in great quantities around North America. And, every US major city tries to put it own spin on both. You have your New York style big slice, your Chicago deep dish, Philadelphia tomato pie, St. Louis thin crust or Los Angeles … whatever the weird they throw on crust and call pizza. I’m getting to a point here, bear with me. Afrobeat has become similarly commodious as pizza, and regional variations are making their way into the musical mix. Again, Brooklyn Afrobeat is different from DC Afrobeat, from East LA Afrobeat from Austin Afrobeat. Chicago Afrobeat Project puts its city’s stamp on the groove.
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ThrdCoast Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Laura Kerry originally appeared on ThrdCoast.

For the last 15 years, a varying group of musicians has met in Chicago lofts and studios to create around their shared love of Afrobeat music. Since 2012, Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP) has released four albums and developed a unique sound that combines West African beats, jazz instrumentation and melodies, and a range of elements from other genres, from funk to indie.

Inviting different members and artists to contribute and leave their mark as they please, CAbP runs as more of a collective than a rigid band, and their new release, What Goes Up, reflects this structure (or lack thereof). In ten songs, the album cycles through different voices, moods, and instrumentation, crediting almost 20 different artists—about half of whom are vocalists. As a result, though the bass, guitar, synth, and horn sections remain throughout, each song carries a different tone.
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Popmatters Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Adriane Pontecorvo originally appeared on Popmatters.

Can there be any greater thrill for a band, especially one with love and appreciation for Afrobeat, than getting to work with Tony Allen? If the Chicago Afrobeat Project’s new collaboration with Allen is any indication, there’s nothing better than the music that comes from working with the legendary Afrobeat founder. Not a single track holds back as the group plays fiery, modern funk with Allen’s intense rhythms driving them forward. The group tackles race relations and police brutality on “Race Hustle” and climate change on “Marker 48”, which starts with a quick spoken breakup between the Earth and her deadbeat boyfriend, the human race, before turning into a lament for the fate of them both.
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Mild Sauce Features “No Bad News” Video

This article by Jake Krez originally appeared on Mild Sauce.

This city is filled with talent which means that when releases hit, they could come from well-known artists as well as after-school programs, college-courses, activist groups or any number of local boiling pots of art that have come to characterize the city in recent years. True to form, the Chicago Afrobeat Project teamed up with a healthy contingent of the city’s talent in Kiara Lanier, Legit and Tony Allen for a new, uplifting single “No Bad News.” Get into it below.

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Management:

Sound + Air Music Group
david@soundandair.com
312.404.4530

Booking:

Luc Parcell
Sound + Air Music Group
luc@soundandair.com
630.802.3685

Media:

Ron Kadish
rock paper scissors, inc.
ron@rockpaperscissors.biz
812.961.3722

Studio/Recording:

Kevin Ford
Fullerton Recording Studios
kevin@fullertonrecording.com
312.925.8979