Opinion Review

Femi Koya: Village Afrobeat

Femi Koya’s approach to music lies in his desire for Pan-Africanism and the fusion of significant musical idioms amongst the cities and villages of West Africa, South Africa and everything in between. His aim is to create a “conscious dialogue” of these musical worlds.

“Village Afrobeat” is an expert mix of the aforementioned, where Koya holds the groove and energy of Afrobeat at its core. Classic Afrobeat break-downs pay homage to Fela Kuti’s performance style and percussion sections, while the mood and swing of Sophiatown, Marabi and Afro-jazz are reminiscent throughout. Koya follows in Kuti’s footsteps, creating original and exciting fusions of popular African styles, paying homage to musical pioneers and leading an excellently crafted twelve-piece ensemble in producing a non-stop groovy album to listen to.

Fela Kuti was the original Afrobeat musician. The genre was developed in the ‘70s in Nigeria, when Kuti had returned from studying classical music in England and after realizing the importance of his African identity in music, Kuti wished to dive deeper into the blend of indigenous west African music, jazz, funk and rock.

Femi Koya’s second full-length release is indicative of Kuti’s pursuit in expressing an African identity. His music also goes beyond that of purely entertainment in the hopes of inspiring unity and social commentary, as well as the dismantling of xenophobia, othering and closed-mindedness.

Femi Koya’s music is a call to Pan-Africanism through his portrayal of the sounds he has fallen in love with through his travels from Nigeria to South Africa. His passion and creativity is brilliant and the resulting album is warm and accessible in its appeal across many popular SA genres, while holistically holding afrobeat in the heart.

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Listen to the album on Apple Music.