Music Review: D’banj re-invents an Afrofuturistic Fela with ‘Breaking News’

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At this point in D’banj’s extensive oeuvre, it is safe to conclude that he couldn’t have found a better title to accord himself than ‘The Entertainer’. The pseudonym came along with the release of his 2008 third studio album and despite his occasional excessiveness and misfires, he has successfully lived up to everything the name stands for including making hits out of the most unlikely, sometimes even convoluted ideas. D’banj has simply proven time and time again that he will have you entertained. How he does this, however, can be something of a marvel.

The critical acclaim and reception of D’banj’s 2016 opener, Emergency ended a nearly three-year-long dry spell which the singer has battled with since he returned from his venture into international waters. And considering how much unnoticed material he released in that span, capitalizing on the success of Emergency with an equally good follow-up is a bigger concern for his legacy than anything else, including a proposed album we’re not sure anyone wants.

D’banj heads straight for the same Fela inspired closet where he dug up Emergency from to create Breaking News and once again it works.

Electronic master Sarz and Uhuru’s DJ Mariphosa collaborate on a confident instrumental fabricated from a vocal sample of Fela’s Zombie, heavy drumsMariphosa’s South African House music steps with Sarz’ electronic magical dust sprinkled over everything else.

The best thing about Breaking News is the reversal of mood setting roles between D’banj’s Fela-inspired erratic ramblings and the heavy electronic-fused Afrobeat instrumentals. D’banj’s voice mostly foregrounds the beat, allowing him to sink the intended Fela atmosphere into the electronic abstraction of the instrumentals without sounding claustrophobic. This is a re-invention of Fela we haven’t heard in a while and nobody could  have pulled it off any better.

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