Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
We are lucky enough to be living in a time when musicians from across the globe are increasingly able to define their own terms of engagement. Thanks to the internet, artists can compete in the global sonic marketplace without the kind of patronage or “discovery” by European and North American musicians that characterized the fraught “World Music” era of the ‘80s. In the case of South African amapiano, some of the earliest adopters were Afrobeats DJs in Nigeria and Ghana, who helped it gain a global foothold. As a result, more and more artists are forging their own sounds from a mixture of local and international vernacular. Leke Awoyinka aka Ekiti Sound is the perfect example: Raised between Lagos and London, his songs combine influences from both Nigeria and the UK British not because of some premeditated “musical fusion,” but simply because it reflects his own life.
On his second album, Drum Money, Awoyinka raps, chants, and sings in London slang and Yoruba, as his music touches on British jungle and broken beat; hip-hop, both classic and modern; classic Fela Kuti; and more. But he’s not fusing these elements—he’s finding common ground and points of connection between them, mapping out a cultural space in which to act out his dramas. Sonically he’s a million miles away, but it’s philosophically similar to the way David Bowie pulled together his equal love of rock, soul, music hall, chanson, and Vegas schmaltz.
Another crucial element is Awoyinka’s extraordinary production. Part of the way he’s able to make the myriad elements flow together is because of his love for a wide array of sounds—whether it’s a horn section, an ‘80s funk synth stab, a raw bleep, a cut-up breakbeat, or hefty hand percussion. The drums in particular sound absolutely stellar here—something that’s clearly on his mind given not just the album’s title, but also its lyrics: “I got drum money,” “I have a tom-tom heartbeat.” The songs go from total celebration to wry mischief to politicized anger and back, and from straight-up dancefloor anthems to deep, trip-hop–like poetic musings. The latter features prominently on the final stretch of the album; the contemplative atmosphere draws you deeper into Awoyinka’s world, making you wonder about the roller-coaster that’s led to this point, and making you want to play it all over again.