Atomic Bomb - William Onyeabor

from the album World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? (2013)

Back in the 1980's, western musicians such as Paul Simon and David Byrne began collaborating with African musicians and introduced the sounds of that continent's music to a more global audience with wild commercial success.  However, I find a dark lining to this silver cloud.

As musicians, these westerners became enthralled with the polyrhythms and layering associated largely with South African music.  Of course they would be, as it provided a new foundation for their creativity to blossom from.  However, the mass market came to associate this as "the" sound of Africa.  In reality, there are many styles and sounds of African music and the spotlight on South African genres marginalized the fantastic music of countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia.  This is an unfortunate result.

In the decade preceding Graceland, artists like Fela Kuti were infusing western jazz and soul with African music to produce some of the century's finest music.  He was the Bob Marley of Western Africa, giving voice to the people and performing to audiences that sometimes topped 1 million people.  Today, his shrine outside of Lagos attracts more visitors than Jim Morrison's grave in Paris.

Last month, a collection of songs recorded by Willam Onyeabor in the 1970's was released.  Atomic Bomb is a track by this little known artist that I totally dig.  As you listen to this song, it is hard to believe that it is the product of a Nigerian artist.  The piano playing and guitar work are very western.    Other elements of the song suggest early ska and reggae.  There are even hints of disco in the orchestration.

Check this song out and groove to how an African artist integrates western sounds rather than the other way around.  It is refreshing.

Click Here to listen to Atomic Bomb on SoundCloud

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