Currently, I think the world is severely missing out on these AFRO-FUNK WORLD MUSIC COMPILATIONS I been groovin’ to. I see no reason for anyone snub these catchy tunes. My own obsession grew from a strange and random addiction to funk music, and somehow, through the wisdom of Curtis Mayfield, Arthur Adams, and Sly & the Family Stone I discovered the lovely & infectious genre of afrobeat that has currently been ever-present in my daily life. As a result of this revelation, I have found myself dancing and moving around a lot more, which has highly improved my lifestyle quality as well as my overall mood and outlook on the universe. So for an instant cure to mid-week blues or sudden pessimism, put on some of these beats and commence dancing. Here are some of my personal faves, although there is so much of this music out there that it’s pretty easy to unearth some sick stuff yourself!
- Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat Funk & Fusion in 70’s. This two volume compilation was created by a dude who once travelled around Ghana looking for obscure tapes & records defining this strange craze, which combined Ghanan highlife & Western disco/funk/r&b influence. Super jazzy & upbeat, almost psychedelic at times!
- African Scream Contest. This was put out by the wonderful Analog Africa, who grouped together a lot of rare tracks from 1970’s Togo & Benin. Most of this came from Cotonou, Benin’s largest city! This label puts out lots of other amazing compilations as well, most of which are less funk and more 1960’s rock inspired, but still rule none the less. Legends of Benin and The Vodoun Effect: Funk And Sato From Benin’s Obscure Labels 1972-1975 (this one is all by Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey, probably one of the universe’s best kept secrets) are my other two favorites from them.
- Nigeria 70 – The Definitive Story Of The Funky Lagos is INCREDIBLE. All of these tracks are super super catchy and range from having influence in disco to funk to classic rock to americana to all of these things at once! “Greetings” by Joni Haastrup is epic and amazingly addictive. My other favorite, “Woman Made the Devil” by Bongos Ikwue, is entirely in English and generally consists of this dude expressing his dilsike for women and emphasizing their relation to the devil. Despite his bitterness, this song almost sounds like it could have been an American classic rock song straight out of 1960’s Haight-Ashbury, but funkier, more interesting, and a little bit less about peace & love? Finally, “Upside Down” by Fela Anikupalo Kuti & The Africa 70 with Sandra Akanke Isidore, which goes on for a full 15 minutes, is probably the most monumental of them all, eventually ending with political lyrics which reveal quite a bit about this specific period in Nigeria’s history.
- Nigeria Disco Funk Special: Sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-1979. Pretty similar to the last one, but worth a mention because all of these songs are a lot more electronic & have increasingly noticeable elements of a disco. Better if you just want to dance for 45 minutes straight? I guess this is something I like to do a lot.
- Africafunk: The Original Sound of 1970’s Funky Africa. This ones a lot more chill, less upbeat, mostly a lot of funk but a much more subdued (yet still excellent) compilation. This one also seems to be based a lot less within a region and provides more of a general summary of trends within the continent. I guess this is hard to do considering the fact that Africa is MASSIVE, but this compilation manages to do it fairly well. I’d like to especially emphasize Mulatu Astatqe, the most famous purveyor of Ethio-Jazz, which combined American Jazz, Latin American influences, & traditional Ethiopian folk music. More of his stuff can be found on a highly enjoyable disc called Ethiopiques Volume 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974. Speaking of which, there are 23 volumes of the Ethiopiques, released from 1998 to 2007: these discs feature rare Ethiopian & Eritrean musicians, and have generally provided me with an impressive collection of African swing, jazz, & instrumental that could make up any swanky party.
Like I said before, countless numbers of these compilations exist, and I am sure some internet searchin’/record store browsin’ can help you discover ones that may better suit your tastes or interests. I know I’m gonna keep looking for sure while my obsession continues in hopes of throwing a funk party or eventually travelling throughout obscure nations compiling my own weird collections of rare & forgotten musicians. Whatever may be your ambition, I hope these compilations are a good start for such an awesome & varied genre of music!