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.
All in all, it’s one of the Project’s finest, and Tony Allen’s beats are a natural fit with the group’s mix of vital social activism and sharp, soulful grooves. If the collective ever worried about being on the wrong track, the way Tony Allen so seamlessly joins in with the group should put those fears safely to rest. What Goes Up is an energetic, horn-heavy album that puts every member involved—master drummer and otherwise—to excellent use.