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cd cover Bantu Featuring Ayuba
Fuji Satisfaction: Soundclash in Lagos
Pirahna Musik (www.pirahna.de)

The Nigerian-German musical collective known as Bantu (Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Toward Unity) have collaborated with numerous African acts, including Pee Frois, Black Soul, and Jollof. On this outing, they team up with Fuji innovator Adewale Ayuba. Fuji, a genre meant to evoke the majesty of Japan's famous mountain peak, combines the catchy, infectious call-and-response melodicism of Afrobeat with the Yoruba drumming workouts and tireless jams characteristic of juju. (Some of the tracks were recorded at juju master Sunny Okoson's studio). Meanwhile, Adé Bantu and his crew bring a sensibility deeply immersed in Fela-style deep funk, hip hop, and dancehall. The resulting combination is contagious, groove heavy, conscious hip hop. In other words, a party in a CD case.

After a rather unnecessary introduction in which we overhear an American-accented woman tell her friend about the awesomeness of Fuji music (why sell the virtues of the record to someone who already owns it?) things get down to business with the title track, a three minutes and eleven second confection whose chorus will dance in your cranium for days. A video of "Fuji Satisfaction," also included in the collection, shows Ayuba's genial charisma to good effect.

Other pieces, such as "How Real (Can a Real Real Be)?" and "Listen Attentively" have a decided Africa 70 groove, facilitated by the slinky riffage of Oghene Kologbe, Fela Kuti's guitarist. Although the lyrics written by Adé Bantu occasionally border on the didactic ("Follow Your Road Go," "Rise Up to the Occasion," and the aforementioned "How Real?," which condemns the negativity of hip hop culture), none cross over into heavy handedness, and the music that propels them contains such monster grooves as to make such matters seem irrelevant. Also, Ayuba plays a role akin to Public Enemy's Flava Flav, entering into the mix at just the right moment to lighten the mood.

One would be hard pressed to find a better African pop record for 2005 than Fuji Satisfaction, a record which successfully combines dancability, political consciousness, and some of the most intense Yoruba drumming to be etched onto a CD in some time. - Michael Duke

CD available from cdRoots

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