Years ago, without setting out to do so, the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas jumped out ahead of the pop-culture curve in two ways. First, geography: The band was formed in Brooklyn in the 1990s, before the New York borough became the mecca of independent music that it is today. Second, the music itself: Afrobeat makes its way into lots of popular music today, but Antibalas was doing it before it had a mainstream foothold.
There just aren't many bands like Antibalas. These are jazz players making dance music: Their music is big and fun, and their guiding spirit is Fela Kuti, the brilliant big-band leader and Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. Afrobeat is a musical style featuring nearly endless songs, mixing funk and jazz, grooves and riffs, with the rhythm carried by not only the drums, but everyone. Everyone — horn players, bass players, guitarists — plays rhythm in Afrobeat music.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:23 am
Sometimes known as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the New York band Antibalas — which means "bulletproof" in Spanish — is a large group of talented musicians who play rhythm-intensive Afrobeat music. In a seven-year stretch, Antibalas has released four albums and withstood a five-year hiatus in which several members worked on the Broadway musical FELA!