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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Sila And The Afrofunk Experience

By Chris Heim
Published April 3, 2007

Funkiest Man in Africa

Kenyan-born, San Francisco-based singer, songwriter and leader of the eight-piece Afrofunk Experience band Victor Sila originally wanted to be an R&B singer. Hints of that remain in his appealingly light and breathy vocals and the shades of Marvin Gaye or even Sade on this new CD. But African styles and rhythms are the heart here, most obviously in the sweet, lilting King Sunny Ade-styled “Dancing Shoes”; a soukous-flavored “Wanibamba,” which borrows from Kanda Bongo Man; and “Ambush,” with its Fela-like Afrobeat sound and social commentary. “Get Up” and “Cry” are rooted in reggae, while “Mandingo” showcases gritty funk. The punchy horn section gives the disc a strong contemporary jazz feel. But if the sources of inspiration are many, the sound is consistent and cohesive. This smartly produced and fun set documents one of a growing number of American-based bands using African styles to create music that is all their own.