Lafayette Afro Rock Band

Darkest Light: The Best of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band [1999]

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The name may not be familiar, but the Lafayette Afro Rock Band's grooves certainly are. A veritable sampler's paradise, snippets of their hip-hugger-tight funk have served as the bedrock of innumerable rap records, most notably Public Enemy's "Show 'Em Whatcha Got." Darkest Light assembles 15 tracks from the group's mid-'70s heyday, revealing a deep, versatile unit truly justified in adopting such an international name -- their music indeed embraces both Afrobeat and Western psychedelia in equal measure, complete with hard-edged guitar riffs, incendiary sax breaks, and blistering rhythms. Although the title track inspired Public Enemy, "Hihache" also features a much-sampled drum intro and the relentless "Conga" later resurfaced on a volume of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series. But to break this music down to its base elements is to do the greater whole a grave disservice -- Darkest Light merits discussion alongside any of the great documents of classic funk.

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