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.”

Vibez: Tony Allen’s Exit, Davido And Tems’ Magic, Daddy Showkey’s Return + More

 

This week was a shade darker as the world of showbiz mourned a number of notable figures.

From legendary afrobeat drummer, Tony Allen, to talented dancer, Picture Kodak and Bollywood greats, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, Vibez takes a look at the life of the stars and how they bade the world farewell over the past week.

On a lighter note, superstar, Davido and Tems give us pure magic in their new song/collaboration with American singer, Khalid.

We also talk about some emerging trends forced upon the fashion world by the COVID-19.

Vibez is your weekly recap of top entertainment moments. 

10 Things You Did Not Know About Afrobeat Legend, Tony Allen

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2010, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen performs on the Park stage on the final day of the Glastonbury festival near Pilton, Somerset. LEON NEAL / AFP

 

Recently, legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79. Here are some interesting facts about the legend.

1. Tony Oladipo Allen was born to a middle-class Lagos family and taught himself the drums and developed his own unique style by obsessing over jazz drummer heroes from the bebop era including Art Blakey and Max Roach. In the early 1960s, he became a regular on the Lagos club circuit which was dominated by the West African highlife sound.

It was during this period he first met Fela Ransome Kuti, who was developing a highlife band called the Koola Lobitos. By 1968/69 that band had evolved into Fela’s groundbreaking Afrika 70, led by Allen on drums with Lekan Animashaun on baritone saxophone.

READ ALSO: Legendary Afrobeat Drummer Tony Allen Dies At 79

2. Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band, Africa ’70, in the 60s and 70s. During that time the pair created Afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with US jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th-century African music.

3. Allen and Kuti recorded about 40 albums as Africa ’70, before parting ways after a mythic, 26-year collaboration, with Allen citing Kuti’s disorganisation and debts to him as the reason for his departure. Such was the hole that Allen left in his band, Kuti required several drummers to replace him.

4. In 1969, touring the US for the first time with Kuti, a meeting with west coast jazz drummer Frank Butler inspired him to practise every morning on pillows, making his sticks bounce off them while he was rolling. “It adds flexibility,” he said. “Very effective. Effortless – that’s what I tried to catch from [Butler].” As part of Kuti’s band, he would sometimes drum for six hours without a break.

5. Allen taught himself to play drums at the age of 18, drawing inspiration from the US jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, as well as contemporary African music. He has attributed his versatility to the need to make a living as a jobbing musician in Lagos in the early 60s. “Latin American, African horns, jazz, highlife … you had to be able to play it all because in the club they asked for it,” he said.

6. His most recent album was ‘Rejoice’, a collaboration with Hugh Masekela. The pair met in Nigeria in the 70s, when Allen was playing with Kuti.

7. This year he planned to work on what he described as a “travel album”, playing with young musicians in Nigeria, London, Paris, and the US, “because I want to take care of youngsters – they have messages and I want to bring them on my beat,” he told the Guardian.

8. The drummer never quite reached the commercial highs or political influence of his friend, he soon became a cultural icon of modern African music particularly after the death of Fela Kuti in 1997. Allen was also a huge critics’ favorite for continuing to push musical boundaries with his unique drumming sound late into his life.

9. Despite coming to the drums relatively late, the British musician and producer Brian Eno called Allen “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”.

10. As tributes flooded in across the music industry, with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, a collaborator of Allen’s, sharing an image of the drummer to Instagram with a lengthy statement. He is the co-founder of Afrobeat.

‘The epic Tony Allen, one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth has left us,’ Flea wrote. ‘What a wildman, with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove.’

He continued: ‘Fela Kuti did not invent afrobeat, Fela and Tony birthed it together. Without Tony Allen, there is NO afrobeat.

Legendary Afrobeat Drummer Tony Allen Dies At 79

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2010, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen performs on the Park stage on the final day of the Glastonbury festival near Pilton, Somerset. LEON NEAL / AFP

 

 

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79 in Paris on Thursday, his manager told AFP.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death,” manager Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus.

“He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital where he died.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Reports Highest Single-Day COVID-19 Cases, Seven More Deaths

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 1970s.

During that time the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th-century African music.

Over Allen’s thrilling beat, Fela laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent.

Allen and Fela recorded around 40 albums together in Africa ’70, before parting ways after a mythic 26-year collaboration.

Such was the hole that Allen left in his band, Fela needed four drummers to replace him.

Allen taught himself to play drums from the age of 18, drawing inspiration from American jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker as well as contemporary African music.

He remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians.

British musician and producer Brian Eno has called Allen “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”.

Allen was the drummer in the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring Blur singer Damon Albarn and The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released its second album in 2018.

He lived in the Paris suburb Courbevoie.

AFP