Tag Archives: Afrobeat

Bukuru Celestin & Snarky Puppy – Amkeni (2013)

Bukuru Celestin & Snarky Puppy - Amkeni (2013)

So, this is interesting; a couple of days ago, a friend posted this link to my Facebook page. He was introduced to them because I reviewed their album GroundUP. Well, it was my very first review on this blog and interesting to revisit it.

Snarky Puppy are an American musical collective, rather than a specific band, centring around bassist Michael League. The shear number of musicians involved has led to them having a multifaceted sound on previous albums, mostly focusing on jazz and funk, but incorporating elements from rock and music from around the globe.

It seems there could be no more perfect companion band to accompany singer Bukuru Celestin. Celestin arrived from Burundi to the USA in 2008 and is a music student at Virginia Western Community College. He, along with his sisters, specialises in afrobeat-inspired gospel.

The combination is sublime; from the disco-funk stylings of Shima to the afrobeat/gospel of Amkeni. There is not a single track that is a disappointment. Each is exciting and so perfectly realised. One striking thing is that this is not Snarky Puppy with a guest singer; this is all about Bukuru Celestin, these tracks are written by him and focus on him as the singer. Snarky Puppy provide the framework and support, but this is Celestin through and through.

His voice is fantastic and complemented so well by the choral work from his sisters. Snarky Puppy are, as expected, tight and funky, confident and dynamic.

Comparisons to Paul Simon’s Graceland would not be unfounded; Simon opened a lot of the West’s eyes to the music of Africa and did so with a blindingly good album. Well, this album is blindingly good as well.

The only negative I can say is that, at only 6 tracks, it is tragically short; however, Celestin has a wonderful future and I look forward to hearing more.

Favourite tracks: Amkeni, Ntumbero, Muzogezahe
Spotify link: Bukuru Celestin & Snarky Puppy – Amkeni
Bandcamp link: http://bukuru.bandcamp.com/
Sneak peak: 


Mory Kante – La Guinéenne (2013)

Mory Kante - La Guinéenne (2013)

Mory Kante is one of Africa’s most well-known and commercially successful singer. As the title of his latest album suggests, he comes from the West African country of Guinea.

I find this album to be a bit of mixed bag, overall, it is very upbeat and would be great for dancing; you can’t listen to it without bopping in your seat. Horns lead you into the fray, and a funky rhythm that is very afrobeat in nature drives you along. This is true of the majority of tracks; however, there are variations, such as Malibala, a decidely reggae offering. Kante’s vocals always sound fresh and inventive, with an almost middle-Eastern twang to them. Other instruments in use are the kora, and some kind of glockenspiel. Sometimes I find the music a little cheesy, a little pop-oriented.

It is a good album, lots of fun and engagingly rhythmic

Favourite tracks: Mbalia, Malibala, Oh Oh Oh

Spotify link: Mory Kante – La Guinéenne
Sneak peak: 

Ogun Afrobeat – The Observer (2012)

Ogun Afrobeat - The Observer (2012)

Ogun Afrobeat are a Madrid-based afrobeat band built around the rhythms of Nigerian, Akin Dimeji Onas.

It would a challenge to write a review of an afrobeat album without mentioning the legendary Fela Kuti and Ogun Afrobeat present an album here with original tracks and Kuti covers (namely Colonial Mentality, Eko Ile and Monday Morning in Lagos). But, I would hasten to say that they are much more than a Fela Kuti clone, Ogun Afrobeat go further and really carve out a funky niche for themselves; at times sounding like Magma, other times Fishbone.

Overall, this is a great slab of funky and exciting afrobeat, and lives up to expectations, covers are treated reverently whilst still having an Ogun Afrobeat stamp on them, and originals are innovative and fun. Funky beats, blazing organs and fantastic horns throughout, all with a crisp clean sound.

Favourite tracks: The Observer, Salitre, Eko Ile,

Bandcamp link: http://ogunafrobeat.bandcamp.com/
Spotify link: Ogun Afrobeat – The Observer
Sneak peak: 

Antibalas – Antibalas (2012)

Antibalas - Antibalas (2012)

What’s that? These guys are from Brooklyn? Not Nigeria? You’re joking right?

That’s right, Antibalas (Spanish for bulletproof) are an Afrobeat band from Brooklyn, NY, who were formed in 1998 by Saxophonist Martin Perna. The band’s main influence is Fela Kuti and it shows; they do fantastic justice to Kuti’s name here on their eponymous fifth album. It’s no surprise that in 2008, they were chosen to play for the musical Fela!, which documents the life and music of the legendary Nigerian singer.

What’s not to love about this album? It has glorious punchy horns, groovy funky basslines, infectious Afrobeat rhythms, playful patois vocals, driving organ, and it is simply irresistible!

The whole thing is jam-packed full of fun, it’s joyous and just makes you want to move.

Now, get up and dance!

Favourite tracks: Dirty Money, The Ratcatcher, Sare Kon Kon.

Spotify link: Antibalas – Antibalas
Sneak peak: