Tony Allen

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This album marks the return of Afro-beat legend Tony Allen in a solo effort and an attempt at a new fusion of Afro-beat and London hip-hop. He's looking for a different aesthetic than American hip-hop, and for good reason. The idea is to reverse the habit of sampling his old drum loops by laying out fresh ones in combination with hip-hoppers. The combination works well, with the predictably well-laid-out drum patterns setting the exact pace necessary for any venture and the vocals of various players shining through. Allen's vocals are reminiscent of some of Fela Kuti's more soft-spoken work, quietly coming through the texture of sound to speak something and quickly responded to by a legion of female vocalists. The rapping of Londoner Ty works within the rhythmic framework perfectly. His delivery slides words between the beats properly, as the pieces slide from straightforward hip-hop to straightforward Afro-beat, and all points in between. It's a funky album from someone who is, of course, expected to be funky, but it holds up well to any hype or expectations that one might have ahead of time. Pick it up for a quick look at what Tony Allen's been up to for the last couple of years and a new direction in Afro-beat's ever-expanding horizons.

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