Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
by Seun Kuti & Fela's Egypt 80
Fela's youngest son gets on top of a groove that rolls so easy, while remaining choppy enough to ID as Afrobeat, that you might be fooled into thinking it's just another groove. What demonstrates otherwise is the live-drum breakdown that renders the track, when the band comes back in full, even more hypnotic, especially when each instrument steps out a little bit: extra roll on the bass here, horns pepping up around the edges there. And also like Pops, Seun rails at the power structure: "We get problems in school/We get ethnic problems/We get government problems."
by Lightning Head
The credit here took some detective work: The label I saw features the word "Afrobeat" where it could be either artist or title, and the one-sheet that came with the MP3 promo isn't much further help. (The MP3s themselves don't quite tell, either.) We do learn that "Lion Head Recordings is the new label of veteran electronic dub producer Glyn 'Bigga' Bush" (Rockers Hi-Fi, Stereo Deluxe), and that he plans to release dub and funk singles as well as Afrobeat ones. While he's nowhere near as jittery (and arresting) as Seun, Bush also hasn't been leading the Egypt 80 for the past 11 years. And anyway, Afrobeat isn't all Bush does here: The EP's highlight is "Bokoor Sound Special," which takes to heart the deep-sunk, loping Ghanaian grooves highlighted so well on last year's Bokoor Beats compilation while straightening things out for the modern dance floor.
by Orchestra Baobab
This Senegalese unit was one of the greatest bands in the world in its '70s–'80s heyday for the same reason it's one of the greatest bands in the world today: They've got a lot of grooves and all of them suck you in. Even if that groove is blatantly recapitulated: This lead track from their latest, Made in Dakar, remakes a song the group first cut in 1968. It doesn't sound at all dated, though: "Pape Ndiaye" utilizes a swaying beat tricked up just enough by rhythmic color to re-up its (and our) alertness every few bars, along with lead vocalist (in Wolof) Assane Mboup's undiminished high tenor.