Bantu, featuring Ayuba,
Fuji Satisfaction: Soundclash in Lagos
(Piranha, 2006)

"Fuji," for those who have not been following the club scenes in Germany or Nigeria, is an AfroPean fusion style blending Western hip hop with traditional African -- specifically Yoruba -- rhythms, and also sharing influences from the Islamic traditions of sub-Saharan Africa. Named after Japan's Mount Fujiama, it also encapsulates a politics that echoes many of the sentiments of new age philosophy.

Adé Bantu has been a force in the club scene in Cologne for some time. His collaborator on this release, Adewale Ayuba, is a second-generation Fuji musician from Nigeria, influential in the Lagos pop milieu. Together, they have brought an engaging and lively collection to the recording studio.

Overall, I enjoyed this one thoroughly, although I think the high-energy cuts, such as the title track or "Where Di Water, Where Di Lighter" and "How Real," work better than the more reflective numbers. There is a wide range of influences apparent in these songs, from traditional African close harmonies, which suddenly make clear some of the antecedents of the "big band" sound, especially in songs like "Fuji Satisfaction" and the strongly Afro-Caribbean "Mt. Fuji," through rap and traditional call-and-response African singing -- there is even an intro that sounds somewhat like the Muslim call to prayer.

This is a refreshing collection, and well worth a listen, although I'm not too sure at this point about its staying power. I do know, however, that my good friend DJ Gold "D" started bopping the minute she heard it, and hasn't stopped yet.

by Robert M. Tilendis
10 March 2007

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