Born in a Brooklyn warehouse in 1997, 12-piece ensemble Antibalas is credited with introducing Afrobeat to a wider global audience, influencing countless musicians and developing a live show that is the stuff of legend. The group has performed everywhere from Central Park to Carnegie Hall to Rikers Island Prison, and thatÂ’s just in New York. On the heels of the hit musical FELA!, which several members collaborated on, Antibalas has reunited with former member and producer Gabe Roth, who was at the helm for their first three albums. Daptone Records released the bandÂ’s first album in five years, self-titled, on August 7, 2013.
Inspired by economic meltdowns and global uprisings, Antibalas piled into two rooms at DaptoneÂ’s House of Soul Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn to cut an explosive new set of afrobeat classics. Â“Dirty MoneyÂ” launches the propulsive six-song LP with deep, pulsating rhythms, monstrous horns and tight funk. Lead singer Amayo Â– a native of Lagos, Nigeria and senior Kung Fu master Â– guides the band through cathartic workouts of call and response, dynamic instrumentals and eruptive solos.
"Rhythm is what makes a good Afrobeat record," says Gabriel Roth, Daptone Records co-founder, producer and connoisseur of all things funky. "Not just the rhythm section, but the rhythm of the horns, the rhythm of the vocals, the rhythm of the keyboards, everybodyÂ’s rhythm. ItÂ’s not just being about being right or wrong in your rhythm, or being good at it, but itÂ’s about feeling something the same way, swinging the same way, anticipating things the same way, and hitting things the same way Â– everybody hearing music the same way, and being able to turn all those instruments into one voice.
"Antibalas is the only band that can do that, right now. ThatÂ’s why theyÂ’re still at the front of the scene, after all these years."
Fourteen years after their first gig, and five since the release of their last album, 2007′s Security, Antibalas Â– AfrobeatÂ’s premier second-wave ensemble Â– are back with their fifth full-length release. Simply titled Antibalas, the album is both a blazing reaffirmation of the NYC bandÂ’s collective musical strengths, and a hard-hitting continuation of their funkified excursions into what Antibalas founder and baritone saxophonist Martn Perna calls "our vault of esoteric sounds and knowledge."
"We kicked around a couple of different titles," Perna explains, "but we could all agree on Antibalas. WeÂ’re always who we have been, and this is what we are and what weÂ’re about, without any frills. If youÂ’ve never heard any of our albums before, this is the one to listen to."
"Musically, itÂ’s our best playing as a band," says trumpeter Jordan McLean. "WeÂ’re having more fun together, weÂ’re all breathing in sync, the structures of the compositions and the overall sound are tighter, and the band is sounding better than ever."