Album - Agberos InternationalArtiste - BANTURecord Label - Rade Gold Entertainment (2017)Duration - 70 minutes

For a music entity that is so deeply African, the band BANTU didn’t originate in Africa.

BANTU began as a group of four young men then living in Germany. Ade Bantu, Abiodun, Amaechi and Patrice. The name BANTU comes from the middle name of the late, great Steve Biko; it is also an acronym: Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity.

In 1996, the band released its first song ‘No Vernacular (Humber Version)’. An album, “Fufu”, followed, two of its singles ‘Nzogbu’ and ‘Fire Inna Dancehall’ becoming niche hits in Nigeria, home country of three of the group’s members. A sophomore self-titled album was released in 2004.

It is now a 13-man band, and has spurned a German group – Brothers Keepers, driving creativity in Europe and Africa, via conscious uplifting local music created live. They are inspired by Africa and all of its beauty and power that lies within. The resulting music provides listeners with an eclectic fusion of Afrobeat, Highlife, Hiphop and Afrofunk genres.

In Lagos, they are popularly known for the popular monthly open-air concert Afropolitan Vibes, where the band performs live music from the new project. That’s why new album “Agberos International” is more familiar to the Lagos live music crowd. Songs like Afropunk and ‘Lagos Barbie’ are already fan favorites.

The title of the album “Agbero International” is inspired by the role of an ‘Agbero’ (a popular Lagos public vehicle conductor who attracts people to board his vehicle). This project makes BANTU, musical Agberos, calling on the wider international community to join the African story and experience Nigeria in its most conscious state.

Criticism is a dominant theme of the project, and it cuts across oppressive Western policies, the blind ruling class.

The story of Nigeria can be told from various perspectives, but the most compelling is on ‘Niger Delta Blues’, an Afrobeat record featuring Fela Kuti’s drummer, Tony Allen. Over blaring horns, and orchestrated live music, the band calls out to international authorities to look at the plight of the people of the Niger Delta.

‘Afropunk’ and ‘Mako ba mi’ are cut from Afrofunk, capturing the Afropolitan Vibes that the band is synonymous with. Lagos Barbie is retro music, designed for nostalgic fans who miss the 90s movement.

There’s also Lagos and its bitter-sweet experiences woven into the project, which showcases the flawed existence of the Nigerian story, and living in the black continent. But in all, this project is best experienced as a tribute to our motherland, with love, activism, poetry and various shades of dance.

Rating: 4/5


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