The organic, sonic purity of Fela Soul, the new album by Nashville-based turntablist Amerigo Gazaway gets beautifully lost in the melodious sound of afrobeat, a term coined by Fela Kuti. Characteristically, afrobeat’s nature of swirling and intricate guitar runs, the pompous push of horns, and grooving percussion is poured ever so nicely into the daisy-fueled mindscape of rap group De La Soul. The incense haze deepens with the atmospheric hypnotics of thick, funky bass lines, scatters of De La Soul-plucked songs and samples that flow elegantly alongside Nigerian artist/activist/multi-instrumentalist, Fela Kuti.
Gazaway is a mastermind, taking a handful of De La Soul tracks and mashing them up with Kuti, creating a thoughtful and soothingly cherished infusion. Deliciously, Gazaway mends the Kuti-created styles of afrobeat with the jazz and hip hop beats of the late 80’s and early 90’s unique to De La Soul’s sound. Affectionately known as “backpack rap” these days, the thoughtful nature of lyrics made global years ago by artists De La Soul became iconic in their interestingly clever wordplay and an ode to being unconfined and open-minded. Their lyrical power came from a higher sense of self-consciousness, unempowering the prowess of money and uplifting the power of mind, all of which makes their sound the perfect partner to Fela Kuti’s music and life-long and arduous fight for the human rights and liberation for the men and women of Nigeria. This marriage is a gorgeous union.