Afrobeat was invented by Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Kuti’s experimentation with various pan-African sounds and exploration of African-American music led to his creation (along with substantial input from the members of his enormous backing band) of the genre, leading to a massive Afrobeat craze in Kuti’s home city of Lagos, and throughout Nigeria and West Africa.
The influence of Afrobeat on current Western music is subtle but noteworthy: seminal and influential artists like Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel have all used demonstrable Afrobeat elements in their music, as have more modern bands, such as those listed below.
Here are 5 Afrobeat Bands you should know:
1. CHICAGO AFROBEAT PROJECT:
Chicago Afrobeat Project is a world music ensemble which started in 2002. The members are well versed in afrobeat, the musical style of Fela Kuti.
The group is sometimes accompanied by African dancers from Chicago’s Muntu Dance Theatre as well as Ayodele Drum & Dance. The group has released four studio efforts between 2005-2013 all recorded at Fullerton Recording Studios. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, the band collaborated with Fela Kuti’s original drummer, Tony Allen, for a series of performances and recording sessions at Fullerton Recording Studios with the resulting work featured on the album What Goes Up (2017).
Kokolo also known as the Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra is an American Afrobeat band from the Lower East Side of New York City, formed in 2001 by songwriter/producer Ray Lugo.
Along with The Daktaris and Antibalas, they form part of the early New York Afrobeat scene that ignited the genre’s current global revival.
Antibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”) is an American, Brooklyn-based afrobeat band that is modeled after Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive Orchestra. Although their music generally follows the musical architecture and language of afrobeat, it incorporates elements of jazz, funk, dub, improvised music, and traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa.
Chopteeth is a Washington, D.C.- based afrofunk big-band. Although rooted in Fela Kuti’s Nigerian afrobeat, Chopteeth’s music is an amalgam of Ghanaian highlife, Senegalese rumba, Jamaican ska, Mande griot music, 1970’s West African funk, Ewe dance drum rhythms, Kenyan Taita afropop, soul-funk, and jazz. Chopteeth’s writing and arrangements feature unique driving syncopations, and occasional odd meters. Chopteeth vocalists sing in eight different languages including English, Nigerian Pidgin, Swahili, Wolof, Mande, Twi, Taita, and French.
5. THE PUBLIC OPINION AFRO ORCHESTRA:
The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra is a Melbourne based band which performs Nigerian funk in the vein of Fela Kuti. The band was founded by DJ Manchild, Zvi Belling and Tristan Ludowyk. The band has up to 19 members varying members. Their album Do Anything Go Anywhere was nominated for Best World Music Album, at the 2010 ARIA Award.
Sources: thought.co, beat.com.au, chopteeth.com, antibalas.bandcamp.com, mediaclub.com, chicagoafrobeatproject.com
Don’t miss the #AfrobeatShack | Sundays and Wednesdays from 8pm WAT on Lokal FM.