Citybeat: “Preview: Chicago Afrobeat Project”

January 19, 2010

Setting contemporary Pop to an African beat is threatening to overtake baseball as the Great American Pastime (I’m talking to you, Vampire Weekend and Extra Golden), but there are plenty of practitioners out there who are hybridizing genres in unique and original ways (I’m not done with you yet, Vampire Weekend and Extra Golden). Among them is the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Formed in 2002, they honed their skills playing the Windy City’s loft party scene, earning a solid reputation as a complete live experience and accruing a rabid fan base.

Over the past eight years, CAbP has released three acclaimed albums — 2005’s self-titled debut, 2007’s (A) Move to Silent Unrest, 2008’s Off the Grid — and been nominated for a number of Chicago Music Awards.

Part of CAbP’s broad appeal is the diversity of their music, containing elements of Rock, Funk, Afro-Cuban music, Juju, Highlife, experimental Jazz and pure Afrobeat, a style that rose from the political and social unrest that gripped Nigeria in the ’60s and ’70s, characterized by the huge popularity and brutal persecution of Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti.

Paying that debt forward, CAbP offers a similarly tempered ability to translate political and cultural concern into danceable, thinkable music (“The March of the Uninsured,” “116: The Hotter the Temp, the Longer the Wait,” “Tibet on It,” “(A Warm) Global Warning”) and celebrates its roots by combining their musical performance with frequent accompaniment from Chicago’s Muntu Dance Theatre.

Trade in your winter cap for your thinking cap, wear the tight pants so your ass doesn’t get lost when it’s danced off and prepare to be educated and entertained: The Chicago Afrobeat Project is here for your groove therapy. No insurance card required.

 

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