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World Music CD Reviews Africa

ASAP: AFROBEAT SUDAN AID PROJECT

By Marty Lipp
Published June 27, 2006

Modiba

Though this album raises funds for crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, it is a compilation of bands that have roots elsewhere in Africa: the Afrobeat of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. The little-known Darfur has been the scene of some of the most horrific ethnic cleansing in years. Government-sponsored militias have tried to wipe out the black population of the region, killing over 400,000 and displacing close to 2.5 million. Official response has been negligible, but non-government agencies have tried to ameliorate the suffering and the money raised with this album goes to help those agencies. Musically, the album is a thick stew of simmering funk, with percolating percussion, fat brass flourishes and spiraling guitar riffs. While Fela’s son, Femi, is not on the album, Fela’s drummer Tony Allen is on one cut. The new generation of bands playing Afrobeat, such as Brooklyn-based Antibalas, appear, donating their songs so more money can be raised for the cause. The songs, unsurprisingly, have a sameness to them, but for Afrobeat fans, that’s no problem. For those who have no interest in Afrobeat: hey, go to www.savedarfur.org and just give directly.