An ever-evolving musical experiment, Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP) thrives when angling its afrobeat roots sideways. With an expansive repertoire, some music pushes a vocal-heavy band dripping with slippery funk and rhythmic hip-hop, while at times the group emphasizes its talented instrumentalists. After years of working with the late Tony Allen — master drummer behind Fela Kuti and co-creator of afrobeat — the group’s grasp of afrobeat is uncontested. But it’s when CAbP stretches out that listeners really dive in. In these experiments, the band’s tasteful deviation pays off.

With founding members Kevin Ford on keyboards and David Glines on guitar leading the group, many shows also feature male emcee Legit and female vocalist Rhea the Second. Legit pops his hip-hop verses across CAbP’s bubbling afrobeat rhythms, while Rhea’s soaring vocal melodies intersect with the horn section. At times the horns either punctuate the vocalists or intertwine with the vocal melody itself. The sound is rich. Whether you’re a fan of Fela or the contemporary Chicago hip-hop scene, the blend works.

The group began in 2002. Musicians sharing a common interest in West African rhythms met to jam in a West side artist loft on Chicago’s Lake Street. Quickly they realized that mixing afrobeat with Chicago house, indie rock, hip-hop, or jazz opened new avenues for experimentation. Something clicked. They had found a collective calling.

Fast-forward hundreds of tour dates and five studio releases later, and the group has found ways of interpreting afrobeat through the American experience. Through it all, CAbP has been the Midwest torchbearers at the center of the North American afrobeat scene. In its newest releases, What Goes Up Remixed (2019) and What Goes Up (2017), the band features special guest Tony Allen, as well as many Chicago vocalists and MCs.

Allen, once exclaimed by Brian Eno as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived,” plays kit on all 10 tracks, recording his signature beats behind the band and vocalists. This collaboration makes Chicago Afrobeat Project the first American afrobeat band to produce a full-length studio record with Tony Allen.

Taking the vocal helm on the album are Akenya (Noname, Chance the Rapper), JC Brooks, Kiara Lanier, Legit (Chance the Rapper), Ugochi, Oranmiyan and Rico Sisney/Maggie Vagle (Sidewalk Chalk). The band’s new vocal-laden approach makes the songs of What Goes Up concise and intentional, and markedly different from CAbP’s prior recordings.

A staple of the American live music scene for years, the band’s live show now combines its historically instrumental style with the new vocal approach. Crowds feed off the spontaneity of the soloists and enthusiasm of the band.

Chicago Afrobeat Project has been a 100% independent artist since day one, with its new release What Goes Up following suit.

Chicago Reader’s Gossip Wolf

This article originally appeared on the Chicago Reader.

It didn’t seem possible that Chicago Afrobeat Project‘s stomping 2017 album, What Goes Up, could get any funkier, but then Latinx DJ crew Future Rootz dropped the killer full-length What Goes Up Remixed late last month. Gossip Wolf has a feeling that these cuts—remixed by the likes of Ron Trent, Maga Bo, DJ Sound Culture, and Jose Marquez—are heating up dance floors already.


This article originally appeared on DJ -D-Mac.

Sol Power All-Stars are proud to announce that our newest output officially puts our name on the same release with Tony Allen, the man that gave Fela Kuti the rhythms to craft his afrobeat vision.
When Chicago Afrobeat Project hit us up to provide a remix for a reworked version of their 2017 release What Goes Up, our responses were “Yes” and “Let’s do it right now!” We dig how this one turned out, especially since some of our peers that we admire also got the call for this project and turned in some heat as well.
Today marks the official release of What Goes Up Remixed featuring Tony Allen with remixes by Maga BoRon TrentAfroQbanoSound Culture, Jose MarquezKevin Ford and of course Sol Power All-Stars.

Concert Alert! CAbP to feature Tony Allen on Mon, 8/27 at The Promontory in Chicago

We are very excited to announce another live collaboration with beatmaster Tony Allen on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at The Promontory in Hyde Park. After a number of tour dates in 2013-2014 where the band featured Allen, Chicago Afrobeat Project released the critically acclaimed What Goes Up in 2017, with Allen manning the drums.

For this show, the band’s newest additions, rising emcee Legit and vocalist Rhea the Second, join the band for this one-night only performance. Expect a mix of afrobeat, hiphop, jazz, and soul… all centered around Allen’s signaure drum beats.

For What Goes Up, the group is the first and only American afrobeat band to release a full album with Tony Allen, and staying true to the band’s form, shaped each song by flipping the afrobeat foundation sideways. Chicago takes center stage, with local emcees and vocalists such as J.C. Brooks, Legit, Akenya, and Kiara Lanier being featured on each song.

World Music Central Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Tom Orr appeared originally on World Music Central.

As a longtime fan of Afrobeat music, I was greatly interested when I heard that Chicago Afrobeat Project would be collaborating with drummer Tony Allen. Allen, after all, was the man behind the kit for all of Fela Kuti’s groundbreaking records and was just as instrumental (pun absolutely intended) in creating the Afrobeat style. What Goes Up (Chicago Afrobeat Project, 2017) does not disappoint. Allen’s militantly polyrhythmic drumming is as spot on as ever. He also brings the experimental feel of his recent works, so the album isn’t simply formulaic Afrobeat but rather an effective blend of contemporary textures (including measured doses of rap) and traditionally-grounded grooves.

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From the Trib: “Chicago Afrobeat Project thrives alongside Fela collaborator”

This article by Greg Kot originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

In some ways, the Chicago Afrobeat Project’s decade-plus career had been building to the moment in 2013 when band members found themselves in the same recording studio with one of their heroes, Tony Allen, the drummer on many of the greatest recordings by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti in the 1970s.

Afrobeat, a rhythmically demanding, politically charged interpretation of American soul and R&B that Fela popularized in his native Nigeria and then took around the world, was defined in many ways by Allen’s drumming. Since establishing itself in West Side jam sessions, the Chicago Afrobeat Project has been using Fela’s innovations as a jumping-off point for its own multigenre compositions and dance concerts.

So when Allen, now a resident of Paris, visited the Midwest a few years ago for a workshop and concert, Chicago Afrobeat Project persuaded the legendary drummer to set aside some time to record two songs with the band at Fullerton Recording Studios in Logan Square, which is run by the band’s keyboardist Kevin Ford.

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Sat, 12/16: Album Release Party @ Reggie’s in Chicago!

Time to celebrate! On Sat, December 16 we are putting on a very special show with many featured guests to celebrate the release of What Goes Up. Guests include JC Brooks, Ugochi, Legit, Akenya and more. Our dancers will help get you down, and to help kick off the night expect full sets from our friends Sam Trump Soul Vortex, Fury Hip Hop, and Future Rootz (DJ sets). Doors will be buzzing at 8PM.
Advance tickets are $13 with vinyl packages starting at $30. Yes, VINYL!
Oh, and we’ll be debuting NEW music as well! Get your tickets online while you can.
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CHIRP Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Mike Nikolich originally appeared on CHIRP.

As a teenager, I began listening to African stations via shortwave radio, a hobby I still enjoy today. Through this medium, I discovered West African artists like King Sunny Ade, Malian guitar virtuoso Ali Farka Touré and Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti.

Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, my wife and I were regulars at the legendary Equator Club, near Broadway and Lawrence, and we had the chance to see many of these wonderful artists up close and personal.
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Exclaim! Reviews “What Goes Up”

This article by Jason Parker Quinton originally appeared on Exclaim!

The righteous assertions of Afrobeat’s sonic revolution are most present in our culture as polyrhythms that are pervasive in genres from pop to hip-hop.

This record by the venerable Chicago Afrobeat Project continues their legacy of releasing music true to the tradition of Fela Kuti while including pieces of blues, jazz, hip-hop and other strands that inflect the sound of the Windy City. For this magnificent collage, they were astute to hire Kuti collaborator and versatile beatsmith Tony Allen. His percussion keeps the sound rooted deep in Africa, as the gang of talented Americans ably change lanes from the traditional to the avant-garde, cruising confidently on timeless grooves.
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