Absolutely amazing Afrobeat Baba Kuboye – CULTURAL CANVAS: Afrobeat is the big band sound of Nigerian Fuji music, inspired by American pop, funk and jazz, and celebrating the traditions of Highlife, Salsa, Calypso, all against a powerful backdrop of groovy beats and killer horns, and then we go back around into traditional Yoruba music. Cultural Canvas is the latest powerful message wrapped in a mesmerizing groove from Baba Kuboye. The drums drive the rhythm, actually a combination of unique rhythms that nobody else seems to be able to create, always playing a repeating chordal/melodic statement, riff, or groove. Here’s a short video of a LIVE performance of “Soft Life” a couple of months ago in Dallas…
The horn section continues to add a much deeper dimension to the music, presenting an opening groove and then quickly inverting it into something unexpected and wonderful, great playing, powerful grooves and passionate performances. The first track, “Soft Life” (3:41) advocates for inner happiness, emphasizing that a peaceful life originates from within. One could envision a young man getting ready to go out on the town, looking in the mirror getting ready for whatever the night might present. Amapiano is a relatively recent hybrid of deep house, jazz and lounge music, with synthesizers and percussive baselines. “Chilling” (2:26) is an Amapiano track designed for club vibes and good times, Kuboye experiments with afrobeat call and response, playing alto and tenor sax and keys. The feeling is of a night in the life of the artist, this feels like it could take place in the early hours of the club. The night is kicking into gear. “Konko” (2:45) is another Amapiano song, encouraging listeners to be their truest selves. Led by the alto saxophone, plenty of drums and vocals and more sax. There is a nice vibe that hooks the listener in, an ever present talking drum and a sax solo that comes in right on time before it exits with a nice pairing of the vocals and drums.
On track 7, Baba seems to be reflecting on his journey in the music industry, and always emphasizing the power of focus in shaping one’s reality, playing alto sax, “Undeniable” (2:57). “Wa Zo Bia” (3:11) is a call for unity among Nigeria’s diverse cultures, inviting the world to appreciate Nigeria’s beauty and support its emerging economy. The only rap song on the album, it does feel like a more public declaration, he is here to make it happen, and the Afrobeat groove is certainly undeniable.
“Igbala” (5:24) is a song with a message that is true and pure and serves humanity. Kuboye’s great great grandfather, JJ Ransome Kuti, first wrote this song. During the recording of this track, Kuboye reflected, “It’s a passion of mine to bring peace, love and inner joy through my music. The only way for me to do this was with spoken word where it came out freely and without too much mental thought.” Everytime you close your eyes, you experience life… Feel Life!
There is a bonus track, an extended version of “Soft Life” (3:20). Dig the vibrations, explorations and sonic possibilities of aurally creating a canvas that feels personal, a painting of this eternal here and now, enjoying this complex and compelling Cultural Canvas! Visit: BabaKuboye.com, or listen to the album on Spotify, below…
- Soft Life
- Carry Go
- Dey for You
- Parara (Sax Appeal)
- Wa ZO BIA
- Soft Life (Extended Version)