The Brooklyn-based collective of Underground System formed back in 2010, and when they originally formed their primary influences were the legendary Fela Kutii and the Western Africa/Afrobeat aesthetic. However, thanks to residing in one of the most diverse places on earth and possessing a rather diverse array of musicians, the band’s sound began to pick up elements of Baile funk, Italian folk and other genres to craft an unique take on Afrobeat – a take that interestingly enough proves how universal Fela’s sound and message truly were.
“Ciao Bello,” the collective’s latest single is an incredibly funky track that sounds as though it could get everyone up and dancing in a sweaty, basement club – and yet it has a poignant and very simple social message: freedom is worth dying for. And typical for the genre, you’ll hear vocals sung in a call and response manner, explosive horns, an incredibly taut bass line and the like. But the song also manages to bear a resemblance to Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective’s Roots Before Branches in it’s breezy feel and it’s adept way of mixing several different genres in a way that sounds warmly familiar and yet absolutely novel.
The official video starts off at a zumba class that turns into a wild dance party.