Post-Humous Album: For Tony Allen ‘There Is No End’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2010 Nigerian drummer Tony Allen performs during the Glastonbury festival near Pilton. (Photo by LEON NEAL / AFP)

 

 

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who pioneered Afrobeat alongside his old band mate Fela Kuti, was knocking out rhythms right up until his death last year at the age of 79.

And as shown on a new album out this week, Allen never stopped pushing boundaries and promoting young talent.

At the time of his death in April 2020, he was deep into a new project that aimed to showcase a new generation of stars.

“Tony wanted to do a rap album, to feature some young rappers, boys and girls, but outside the norm,” the new album’s co-producer Vincent Taeger told AFP.

His friends and collaborators decided to complete the work he had started, resulting in “There Is No End”, which is released on Friday.

“When he left us, it was very hard,” Taeger said. “A month later, his record label and manager contacted me to say: ‘You made a lot of progress, you should respect the wishes of the master and finish the album’.”

Allen had already recorded the drum parts and some bass lines, and was exploring potential collaborations with up-and-coming artists.

“Tony always loved hip-hop. With Fela, there was already the groove, the party, the dancing that lasts all night, just like the early rap sound-system parties,” Allen’s manager Eric Trosset told AFP.

 

There Is No End is a remarkable way to say goodbye to Tony Allen.

 

– ‘A smuggler’ –
Allen was one of the founding fathers of Afrobeat in the 1960s and 1970s as a drummer for Fela Kuti and musical director of his Africa ’70 band.

They recorded around 40 albums together before parting ways after a 26-year collaboration.

Allen continued to reach new audiences, particularly through his work with Blur singer Damon Albarn and his groups Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen.

For the new album, the only song that had been completed at the time of his death was “Cosmosis” featuring British rapper Skepta and poet Ben Okri, who are also of Nigerian origin.

But that represents just a small part of the eclectic mix of styles brought together posthumously by Taeger and another frequent collaborator, Vincent Taurelle.

“Rich Black” brings in the rhymes of US rapper Koreatown Oddity, while “Tres Magnifique” has nods to Tom Waits.

And it falls to young British star Lava La Rue to match the tempo set by Allen on “One Inna Million”.

“We’ve managed to make an album that resembles Tony with some really great featured artists, not all of them very well known yet, that will give them a boost. Tony was always a smuggler in that way,” said Taeger, who goes by the name Tiger Tigre for his own solo projects.

“At the start, I said, ‘Damn, Tony isn’t here, it’s going to be very different. He obviously wanted to meet these rappers for the recordings in all four corners of the globe,” he added.

“But he trusted me, he knew that I spoke the same language as him.”

Even without Allen, the possibility of bringing the album to the stage has not been entirely ruled out, said Taeger, who is considering a crowdfunding campaign.

“I’ve thought about it. There are a lot of great drummers like Questlove (of The Roots), Anderson .Paak, who knew him. They could do a few concerts to show off Tony’s style.”

Family Set To Immortalize Ayinde Barrister

ayinde barristerThe family of late pioneer of Fuji Music, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, is making plans to immortalize him by turning the icon’s house into a museum.

If accomplished, the icon’s house in the Isolo area of Lagos would be second of such, following a similar effort by the family of late Afrobeats legend, Fela Kuti, in 2012.

An all-star tribute concert has also been lined up to celebrate the 5th anniversary of barrister’s demise.

One of Nigeria’s best-known singer/songwriters, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister played an essential role in the evolution of the music of his homeland.

The leader of a 25-piece band, the Supreme Fuji Commanders and a smaller group, the Africa International Music Ambassadors, Barrister had continued to be one of the leading purveyors of Fuji, an exciting, amplified dance music combining Juju, Apala, and traditional Yoruba blues that he introduced in the late ’70s.

With his heartfelt vocals set to a rhythmic mix of talking drums, claves, bells, shekere, drum set and Hawaiian-style guitar, he laid the foundation for Fuji, which he named after Mt. Fuji, the Japanese mountain of love. The style had been described as “Juju without the guitars” and a “percussion conversation”.

The 62 year old musician passed away at St Mary’s Hospital in London on December 16, 2010, after a protracted illness.