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World Music CD Reviews Africa

BANTU FEATURING AYUBA

By Tom Orr
Published September 23, 2005

Fuji Satisfaction
Piranha

Fuji, a percussion-heavy style spun off from the apala music of Nigeria’s Yoruba Muslims, is built around some of the most tightly locked drum grooves imaginable. It’s that very groove which makes it so adaptable, as this collaboration between young Nigerian fuji master Adewele Ayuba and Afro-German hip-hopper Ade Bantu shows. While not a perfectly realized fusion of deep African roots and contemporary dance music, the album packs ample amounts of fire and fun. There’s funk elements that bring echoes of Fela-like Afrobeat to these songs of celebration, self-awareness, cultural unity and African identity as well as effective melding of hip-hop structures with ample live percussion and ongoing call-and-response singing largely in English. Moments where the vocals break into flat-out rapping feel a bit gratuitous and some banal subject matter is briefly touched upon, but in the main this disc comes on strong and delivers enough conscious vibes and inspired ideas (including the work of key players like saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff and guitarist Oghene Kologbo) to stimulate head and hips.