Tag: afrobeat

New Audio: Nigerian-Greek Artist Ofili Shares Infectious Theme Song to Disney+’s “Rise”

33-year-old, Francis “Ofili” Adetokunbo is an emerging Lagos-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter and producer. And if you’re as big of a sports fan as I am, the last name may be dimly familiar for a reason: Adetokumbo is the oldest brother of Milwaukee Bucks‘ superstar forward/center Giannis Antetokounmpo (né Adetokunbo) and his three other professional basketball player brothers, Thanasis, Kostas and Alex.

Perhaps best known as a professional soccer player back in Nigeria — and as a semi-professional basketball player, Adetokunbo has spent the past decade creating original music that draws from Afrobeats, hip-hop and trap. Although he had been creating music for some time, Francis, who performs as Ofili, the name of his beloved grandfather, released his first official single a few years ago, after relocating to Athens.

Since his arrival in Athens, Adetokunbo has been busy releasing a series of singles including 2020’s “Shekosi,” which was released through Def Jam Greece; and last year’s “Like Giannis” with Moose and Negros Tou Moria, which was released through Sky Vector Music. Through the Athens-based imprint, he released “Count On U” and “On My Level” and the Rise EP, which features the title track “Rise” theme song to the Disney+ movie on his four younger, basketball player brothers, Rise.

Speaking of Rise — both the EP and the movie — the title track “Rise” is an infectious, hook-driven, genre-smashing bop featuring elements of Afrobeats, electro pop and dancehall that to my ears brings Nigerian superstar Burna Boy to mind. While being club and lounge friendly, “Rise” is centered around a powerful message of hope, resilience, dedication and familial love.

Led by frontperson Amai Kuda, the rising Toronto-based collective Amai Kuda Et Les Bois has honed and developed a reputation for crafting genre-defying music about healing — ourselves, our society and Mother Earth — with an interwoven spiritual element throughout: Their live shows and recording sessions always begin with the pouring of libations and the invocation of the ancestors.

The Canadian collective’s full-length debut, Sand from the Sea was released to praise from Nicholas Jennings, Canada’s foremost music journalist, who named the album “one of the year’s most exciting discoveries.” Since then, the members of Amai Kuda et Les Bois have been extremely busy: they’ve collaborated with Dead Prez’s M1 on “We Can Do It,” a conscious, call-to-action song.

Adding to a growing profile in Canada and elsewhere, the genre-defying outfit has opened for Joel Plaskett, Kellylee Evans, and Sarah Slean. They’ve been featured in NOW Magazine and CBC’s Canada Live and Big City Small World. 2019’s “Holding Back” with Version Xcursion premiered on Strombo Show. They’ve also received nominations for Best Song and Best Folk/Roots Awards at the Toronto Independent Music Awards — with a win for Best Folk/Roots.

They’ve played shows at some of the Toronto’s best known venues including the Oakville Centre for Performing Arts, Jane Mallett Theatre, Harbourfront, The Rivoli, as well as festivals like Luminato, Kultrun, and Small World. And lastly, they’ve toured and played shows on four of the world’s seven continents.

The Toronto-based collective’s newest album, the Jimmy Kiddo co-produced EmUrgency is slated for release this fall. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Quantum Vox Music, EmUrgency draws from — and reflects — Kuda’s eclectic and vast influences both musically and personally including Afro-House, Motown, alt-rock, hip-hop and downtempo electronica. as well as her Trinidadian heritage and Toronto upbringing.

Thematically, the album is rooted in and speaks the struggles, joys and hard-fought wisdom of Kuda’s life journey: In particular, being guided by the ancestors and Orishas, and staying true to her calling as a mother, healer, warrior and artist — despite the countless obstacles facing Black, queer women in both the music industry and society. The album’s material also digs deep into African Indigenous spiritual traditions — through connecting with the gods and deities of Yoruba cosmology, as well as the anti-colonial war for survival, unconditional love, honoring the elders, as well as caring for and preserving your inner child in times of struggle. If that doesn’t sound necessary and restorative, nothing is in my book.

EmUrgency‘s latest single “Oshun” derives its title from the Yoruba orisha (deity) of sweet water, which includes all rivers, lakes and streams. Centered around African polyrhythm and what sounds like twinkling vibraphone and Kuda’s unique delivery, which alternates between coquettish, plaintive and righteous within a turn of a phrase, “Oshun” is a club banger that’s indebted to the contempoary sounds of the motherland, in particular Afrobeats, Afro-House and Afro-pop. At its core, the song’s narrator pleads to the deity for the good and sweet things in life that have been denied to her — love, sweetness, beauty, money and so on.

“Joy, love, beauty, magic and riches are all her domain. She is also a fearsome warrior,” Amai Kuda explains. “We give thanks to her for all the sweet things and bounty in life, and also call upon her for help in matters of love or money. This praise song for her was born on the shores of her waters and is a gift both from and for her.

New Audio: London’s Blue Lab Beats Teams up with Accra, Ghana’s Killbeatz and Fela Kuti on Dance Floor Friendly “Motherland Journey”

Rising, London-based Jazztronica production duo Blue Lab Beats — producer NK-OK and multi-instrumentalist Mr, DM — had rather humble origins, as bedroom producers, who remixed tracks by the likes of Dua Lipa, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and others. The duo’s sound quickly morphed to incorporate jazz, soul and hip-hop influences while staying true to their British/London roots. Since the formation, the London-based duo have quickly exploded into the national and international scenes: they’ve played played Glastonbury — and they’ve opened for the likes of the legendary Roy Ayers and Thundercat. They’ve also contributed a remake of Bobby Henderson‘s Blue Note Records‘ classic “Montara,” which appeared on last year’s Blue Note Re: imagined compilation. And adding to a growing profile, the duo’s work has amassed over 25 million streams to date.

2021 has been a busy year for the rising British production duo: They’ve released a handful of critically applauded singles including “Dat It,” “Blow You Away (Delilah)” and “Sensual Loving,” which have seem them collaborating with the like of Stones Throw Records affiliate Kiefer and Afrobeats star Ghetto Boy. And as you may recall last month,I wrote about “Labels,” which featured a  J. Dilla meets The Midnight Hour-like production centered around soaring strings, boom bap beats and a sinuous bass line.

The production serves as a lush and mesmerizing bed for thoughtful and lovelorn verses from London-based emcee Kofi Stone that find him questioning the need for labels to define what his romantic relationship is to others. The song also features a soulful hook by London-based vocalist Tiana Major9.

Those four singles will appear on the duo’s long awaited new album and Blue Note Records full-length debut Motherland Journey. Slated for a February 25, 2022 release, the album is a result of two-and-a-half years of work that celebrates pushing boundaries, taking risks and overcoming adversity. Starting out with over 70 demos, the duo meticulously whittled them down to the final 17-track album.

“This album took us two-and-a-half years to finish, our longest process to make an album, but it was so worth it,”the members of Blue Lab Beats say in press notes. “On this album you’ll hear many fusions of genres and inspirations that we gathered throughout that time frame and especially to work on so many of the songs during the first lockdown it was a test in itself. We had to figure out so many different ways to achieve what we exactly wanted sonically and having Blue Note to help us achieve that was an absolute blessing. Many of the vocal features and instrumentalists on this album are great friends of ours and it’s just so amazing to have family on this album.”

Motherland Journey‘s fifth and latest single, album title track “Motherland Journey” features Ghanian producer KillBeatz and the vocals of the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Co-written by the duo and Killbeatz in Accra, Ghana, the song was blessed by the estate of Fela Kuti. Featuring a warm, dancehall meets Afrobeat-like production, featuring a looping and shimmering guitar line, skittering beats, regal horns, “Motherland Journey” is an upbeat, club friendly bop. But underneath those dance floor vibes, the song suggests that Africa is the future — and for some, it’ll be an introduction to the legendary Kuti and the sounds of Africa in a crowd-pleaisng fashion.

New Audio: Emerging Artist Mighty Koba Releases a Summery Club Banger

Mighty Koba is an emerging and somewhat mysterious Cameroonian-American singer/songwriter. His latest single “Whine Poko” sees the emerging artist seamlessly bridging multiple cultures and styles with a slick and breezy dance floor friendly production featuring elements of Afrobeat, Afropop, reggae, dancehall and soca paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook.

With the temperatures dropping a bit here in the Northeast as we push further into Fall, “Whine Poko” at the moment is simultaneously, a nostalgic blast of summer and the sort of song you want to wine down with that pretty young thing at the club.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Releases a Forceful New Ripper

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Here Lies Man — Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar), Geoff Mann (drums), JP Maramba (bass) and Doug Organ (keys) — will be releasing their fourth album Ritual Divination through their longtime label home RidingEasy Records later this month. Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting what may arguably be the best rendering of their long established aesthetic The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ fourth album Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting what arguably may the best rendering of their long-held aesthetic — Fela Kuti-inspired Afrobeat grooves paired with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin -like power chords — with heavier and bluesier guitars, while maintaining the rhythmic formula of the clave. “Musically, it’s an opening up to more traditional rock elements,” the band’s Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar) explains in press notes. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.”

Interestingly, the album marks the first bit of recorded output from the band as a full-time quartet while continuing the band’s equally long-held songwriting concept: the band crafting the soundtrack to an imaginary movie int chic, each song applying to a particular scene of that movie. “It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip,” Garcia says. “The intention and purpose of the music is to create a sonic ritual to lift the veil of inner space and divine the true nature of reality.” Ritual Divination’s material is self-reflexive but with song possessing its own narrative and emotional arc, rather than the trippy, trance-inducing jams of their previously released material.

Perhaps as a result of all of these changes, the album also finds the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays eschewing the fuzz and distortion pedal driven riffs of their previously released material and focusing on a live, more dynamic feel and forceful sound.

Over the past few months, I’ve written about two of Ritual Divination’s released singles:

“I Told You (You Shall Die),” a lysergic ripper centered a mind-bending and expensive song structure featuring scorching Black Sabbath-like power chord riffs, Afrobeat-like polyrhythm and enormous, arena rock friendly hooks.
“Come Inside,” a sinister and menacing track centered round chugging power chords, a forceful motorik groove and chanted vocals darting in-and-around the song’s instrumentation.

Ritual Divination’s latest single “Collector of Vanities” continues an impressive run of forceful, Black Sabbath-like rippers featuring squiggling keys, thunderous drumming, chanted vocals and an rousingly anthemic hook. And much like its predecessor, the track finds the band seemingly conjuring evil spirits out of the ether.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Return with a Menacing New Ripper

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstays Here Lies Man. Founded by Antibalas‘ Marcos Garcia and Geoff Man Here Lies Man has developed and honed an attention-grabbing sound that aesthetically bridges Fela Kuti-like Afrobeat grooves with classic Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era, power chord-fueled rock.

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ forth album Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting what arguably may the best rendering of their long-held aesthetic — with heavier and bluesier guitars while maintaining the rhythmic formula of the clave. “Musically, it’s an opening up to more traditional rock elements,” the band’s Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar) explains in press notes. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.”

Ritual Divination marks the band’s first bit of recorded output as a full-time quartet, featuring JP Maramba (bass) and Doug Organ (keys). The album also continues their long-held and ongoing concept that has the band crafting the soundtrack to an imaginary movie with each song describing and being part of a parritucalr scene “It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip,” Garcia explains in press notes. “The intention and purpose of the music is to create a sonic ritual to lift the veil of inner space and divine the true nature of reality.” As a result, the album’s material is self-reflexive: “On this album the feel changes within a song,” Garcia continues. “Whereas before each song was meant to induce a trancelike state, now more of the songs have their own arc built in.”

Interestingly though, Ritual Divination finds the band focusing on a a live, more dynamic feel with the band eschewing the fuzz and distortion pedals of their previously released work. The end result is a much more direct and forceful approach as you would hear on the album’s first single “I Told You (You Shall Die),” which I wrote about earlier this year. The song was a lysergic ripper centered around scorching Black Sabbath-like power chords, Afrobeat-inspired polyrhythm, and enormous arena rock friendly hooks within an expansive, mind-bending song structure.

“Come Inside,” Ritual Divination’s second and latest single is lysergic haze of a song centered around chugging power chords, driving drumming and a motorik-like groove and chanted vocals darting in and around the song’s instrumentation. While continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, “Come Inside” manages to possess a sinister air.

Ritual Divination is slated for a January 22, 2021 release through their longtime label home RidingEasy Records.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Releases a Scorching New Ripper

Throughout the past handful of years of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstays Here Lies Man. The act, which was founded by Antibalas’ Marcos Garcia and Geoff Man has developed and honed an attention-grabbing sound that aesthetically (and seamlessly) bridges Fela Kuti Afrobeat grooves with classic Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era, power chord-fueled rock through their first three albums — 2017’s self-titled debut, 2018’s You Will Know Nothing and last year’s No Ground to Walk Upon, as well as an EP Animal Noises.

The Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ fourth album Ritual Divination reportedly finds the band crafting arguably the best rendering of their long-held aesthetic — with heavier and bluesier guitars while maintaining the rhythmic formula of the clave. “Musically, it’s an opening up to more traditional rock elements, the band’s Marcos Garcia (vocals, guitar) explains in press notes. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.” Interestingly, Ritual Divination is the first album recorded as a full quartet, featuring JP Maramba (bass) and Doug Organ (keys).

Here Lies Man’s fourth album continues their ongoing concept of the band writing and crafting the soundtrack to an imaginary movie with each song being a scene. “It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip,” Garcia explains in press notes. “The intention and purpose of the music is to create a sonic ritual to lift the veil of inner space and divine the true nature of reality.” And as a result, the album’s material is self-reflexive: “On this album the feel changes within a song,” Garcia continues. “Whereas before each song was meant to induce a trancelike state, now more of the songs have their own arc built in.” But unlike their previously released material, the band actively giving attempting to give the album a live, dynamic feel — with the band eschewing the fuzz pedals and going for a much more direct approach.

“I Told You (You Shall Die)” Ritual Divination’s swaggering first single is an trippy ripper, centered around scorching Black Sabbath-like power chords, Afrobeat-inspired polyrhythm, and enormous arena rock friendly hooks within an expansive, mind-bending song structure. And unlike their previous material, “I Told You (You Shall Die)” reveals a rawer, more forceful sound than ever before.

Ritual Divination is slated for a January 22, 2021 release through their longtime label home RidingEasy Records.