This article originally appeared in Chicago Innerview Magazine.
Four years ago in a third-story loft on Lake Street in downtown Chicago, some musicians experimenting with afrobeat and Chicago’s own diverse music formed Chicago Afrobeat Project. The afrobeat genre, created by Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti, lends very well to cross-genre experimentation as it mixes American funk and jazz with West African juju and highlife music. Ranging from 7 to 11 band members (and still possibly growing), CAbP is known for their long, jammy songs featuring solos from their horn section, keyboardist, percussionists, bassist, and guitarist. Maintaining an afrobeat vibe throughout, but drawing influence from many different types of music (including hip-hop, rock, and Chicago house), CAbP’s main intention is to make their listeners move. In concert, they are sometimes joined by African dancers from Chicago’s Muntu Dance Theatre. Although they are not as overtly political as Kuti was, they show their support for social action by donating a percentage of the sales of their new record (scheduled for release in 2007) to an organization that helps fight AIDS in Africa. (Appearing at Kinetic Playground on Jan. 6) –text: Ariel Sundel