As practitioners of a “non-traditional” interpretation of afrobeat for more than a decade, Chicago Afrobeat Project frequently reinvents itself within a genre first pioneered by Fela Kuti. The group’s latest release Nyash Up!” shows the group redefining their signature version of afrobeat by incorporating elements of hip-hop, orchestra-like musical arrangement, and stylistic explorations of rock, jazz and funk.
In 2014, the group ups the ante by collaborating with master afrobeat drummer Tony Allen on a studio release slotted for late in the year. The two artists first collaborated in 2013 on a series of Midwest summer concerts and plan to work together in the U.S. in summer 2014 as well.
As a genre, the success of the Broadway musical Fela! and a growing interest in the music has made afrobeat a widely-known sound around the world. Elements of the music are pushing their way further into more diverse and mainstream outlets with a widening array of successful artists such as The Roots, Janelle Monae, Vampire Weekend and drawing influence from the sound.
Chicago Afrobeat Project embarked as one of the first nationally touring American bands to take the sound to the masses. The band has mastered a sound that weaves the uniqueness of the Chicago music scene with a distinct western-influenced Nigerian style of music. The group performed with Seun Kuti (son of the late Fela Kuti) and featured Sahr (the original actor portraying Fela in the Broadway musical) as a part of the official Fela! musical kick off party in Chicago. In the past with artists the group has performed with notables such as Bill Kreutzman of the Grateful Dead, Jeff Parker of Tortoise, Paul Wertico, Steve Kimmock, Sugar Blue, Howard Levy, and many others.
Chicago Afrobeat Project channels this immense momentum to every performance. The band’s reputation as delivering a stellar live performance translates to group’s new “Nyash Up!” album as well, with critics clamoring that it’s the groups best studio record to date.