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.

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.

“Highlighted Releases – Week of 9/8/2017: ‘What Goes Up'” from KFAI Minneapolis – St. Paul

This review appeared on the WFAI website.

It’s not just the twin cities that have been ripe with afropop revitalization the last few years. The band teamed up with Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen and a whole mess of Chicago emcees before tossing together this gem. From Nigerian phrasing (Igbo) to gospel, the vocals cover almost as many ranges as the music. As if this wasn’t enough, the cover art is also stellar. Get your feet moving.

“Chicago Afrobeat Project drops their video for “No Bad News” featuring Legit, Tony Allen & Kiara Lanier” from Fake Shore Drive

This write-up by Andrew Barber originally appeared on Fake Shore Drive.

This is dope and refreshing. Something fresh from the Chicago Afrobeat Project, featuring assistance from Legit storied drummer Tony Allen and songstress Kiara Lanier. The clip is well-played and focuses on choosing that positive energy instead of embracing the negative. I think it’s something we could all get behind.

New York Times Playlist: “The Playlist: Sam Smith Guards His Heart, and 12 More New Songs”

This article by Giovanni Russonello originally appeared in The New York Times.

Tony Allen puts a lot of respect into each drum stroke. He’s not a quick or flashy player; with him, your ear zooms out slowly: The full structure of a beat comes into view only after you’ve appreciated its components. Mr. Allen, who was the de facto musical director of Fela Kuti’s band, now lives in Paris, but lately he’s been working in the United States more than usual. So let’s zoom in.

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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