Who Is This America?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I fell in love with Afrobeat ever since I discovered the legendary musician Fela Kuti. Afrobeat is unique fusion of indigenous African rhythms and instrumentation mixed with Jazz and Funk. What comes out of this mix is an explosion of up-lifting beats that put you in a trance. Afrobeat, unlike with other genres that mix a variety of ethnic music such as Salsa, is both the type of music perfect for lounging around and also getting up and dancing. Afrobeat was originally the quintessential protest music for war-torn Africa. It's up-lifting and festive beats provided a positive aura promoting peace and love, while it's lyrics promoted anger and mockery at a corrupt political regime and ultimately called for a positive change in society. Fela Kuti, who can be dubbed the original pioneer of Afrobeat, once said "Music is the weapon of the future.". He, like John Lennon and Bob Marley, used music to get a message out. A message promoting peace and love in our society that is currently filled with violence and power struggles. Music is indeed in the weapon of the future, and here comes in the group named Anitbalas, which means "Bulletproof" in Spanish. This Brooklyn-based band mixes Afrobeat, funk, dub, Latin beats, and traditional drumming from Cuba. In their latest album Who Is This America? they stay true to Fela Kuti's spirit in the music and the traditions set forth by him while expanding the music and the message to apply to a new audience who hasn't experienced Afrobeat from the 70's. The message they convey is a strong one, they express their anger with the past and current U.S. administration, with all the corruptions and lies they fed us on a daily basis. The song Indictment conveys this message perfectly, in the middle of the song they yell out all the names that they believe are responsible for the disaster in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and they also yell out all the names of the people who were shut out of the public eye because of their urge to expose the truth. This entire album is filled with great rhythms and hypnotic beats accompanied with lyrics that call for the truth to finally come out. Staying true to Fela Kuti's belief that music should not only be something good to hear and dance to, but music should also convey a deeper message, whether it's through it's lyrics or it's rhythms, music can be incorporated as a weapon. Maybe the strongest weapon ever, you can kill so many people with guns and bombs, but music is eternal. Music can not be dismantled or under-powered. Music is the strongest weapon of them all, it conveys an idea, which cannot be killed or destroyed. Music truly lives on. Give Who Is This America? by Antibalas a listen soon, it's an amazing album that has amazing music and conveys an awesome message.