Starting life as a shifting collective of musicians jamming in a artist’s loft, channeling the fervor of Afrobeat’s progenitor Fela Kuti, the Chicago AfrobeatProject initially covered the Nigerian icon’s back catalogue before developing their own variant style. Transducing the sound of downtown Lagos and the Afro-Spot nightclub via the rich musical heritage of their own native metropolis, the group, now settling with a regular lineup, open the studio doors to embrace the city’s famous blues, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, house and hip-hop culture. Continue reading →
Afrobeat music, a genre with its roots in Nigeria that was virtually invented by the late great Fela Kuti, is known primarily for two things: It is constructed of stretched-out grooves that put listeners in a mood to dance all night, and, because of Fela’s outspoken nature and his constant battles with authority, Afrobeat songs are also known for their no-holds-barred lyrical take on societal ills. Both of those qualities sizzle like the hot West African sun on What Goes Up, the upcoming release from the Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP).
In advance of the Sept. 15 release date of What Goes Up we interviewed band keyboards player Kevin Ford by email, and he told us about the making of the album, including working with drummer extraordinaire Tony Allen, who was a longtime member of Fela Kuti’s band. Ford’s insights below are given exclusively to AXS.com.
Chicago Afrobeat Project is set to release its fifth album, What Goes Up, on 29 September. The album features Tony Allen on each of its 10 tracks.
The initial plan, according to the band, was to record a couple of songs with the Fela collaborator and co-creator of the Afrobeat sound. That changed with a declaration from the drummer.
“We’re not recording two tracks,” he said. “We’re recording 10 tracks for an album.” With those words work towards What Goes Up began. The collaboration has now yielded what the band calls their “most musically expansive album to date”. The album, says the band, is the first in North America to feature Tony Allen on every track.