Critical Breakdown:- Okwei Odili & IFA Afrobeat – Okwei Odili & IFA Afrobeat [ EP Review ]


Artiste:- IFA Afrobeat & Okwei V Odili
Album:- IFA Afrobeat & Okwei V Odili
Record Label:-
Distributed By:- I-Tunes
Guest Appearances:- Nil
Producers:- Andre T and IFA Afrobeat
Release Date:- August 29th 2015

Okwei Odili has been loyal to her brand ever since she came to prominence as the lead singer of well known Afro-funk Lagos based band Ayetoro in the mid 2000’s and after a nice spell with her bandmates, she went solo under the name Sista Soul and put out different singles whilst exploring her soundscape and establishing her musical identity. Having worked with like-minded acts like Jeremiah Gyang and Ese Peters, delivering tracks like The Shun Song, You and Bolanle, she started to gravitate towards a more Afrobeat sound and as someone who was raised under the tutelage of live music and band cohesion, everything came to a headway when she traveled to Brazil and connected with various Afrobeat,Jazz and Funk bands from different social landscapes, and eventually started rehearsing, performing and recording with Bahia based collective IFA Afrobeat.

                Together they released their self-titled extended play collection in August, a project which was inspired by the street riots which held sway in Brazil in 2013 while they were protesting the gross mismanagement of funds by their government leading up to the last FIFA world cup tournament which they hosted. The socio-political context of the album was evident from the first track Afro-Funk Revolution, a bold musical statement which was declared over a well co-ordinated horn sequence which combined Jazz and Latin-American percussion with African drums creating the funky layer for Okwei to utilize her soul-stirring vocals singing “We dey work, we dey pray Hoping to find a way, this na revolution In our nation, give us solution and no confusion” letting you know from the jump what you are in for.The next track Suffer opened up with Okwei crooning “Many people dem dey suffer our people dem dey suffer, in the morning dem dey suffer,in the night them dey suffer, Cos you looting our money, we no fit chopu honey” over a reflective Afrobeat groove, its a more sombre record which was tailored to convey the sentiments intended. The groove on the next track Afro Woman is even more mellow than the last, and the vocals were inspired by Ololufe Mi which was originally performed by The originator Fela Kuti. With a mixture of Yoruba and Pidgin English, Okwei Odili combined her vocals with the musical sequence to a very beautiful effect. The sound of the album switches to a more Reggae inspired vibe on the next song Ebezener, a song of hope and encouragement which the title roughly translates to “Don’t Cry” in Igbo language, and once again Miss Odili delivered her vocals with a smooth combination of Igbo and English language to create an alternative sound on the project which will appeal to our brothers in the Caribbean and West Indies. The IFA Element of spirituality in the music comes to play on the final track Axe [ pronounced Ashe ], a musical prayer complete with a bit of incantations in between which pretty much embodies the whole project , thus closing the EP in a powerful and befitting way.

                                           Though Nigeria and Brazil may be thousands of miles apart, both countries share different economic, social and cultural similarities, which is first of all evident by the fact that both countries are the most populous on their various continents. Both countries were also under military rule after they gained colonial independence with Brazil ousting the Military in 1988 and Nigeria doing so 11 years later in 1999 and finally both countries practice the same system of governance borrowed from the United States as opposed to the British parliamentary system. On the cultural front, the Yoruba culture is still very much alive and strong in Brazil, especially in Bahia where it has influenced the way of life,cuisine, language, culture and music of people from the region. Religions like Candomble and Umbanda still practice and infuse a lot of elements of the traditional IFA religion which originated in Yoruba land, hence many musical groups such as Olodum, Ile Aiye and Ara Ketu have all made music which was inspired by and driven by the traditional Yoruba forms of music and culture. This is why IFA Afrobeat and Okwei V Odili is like a match made in heaven as everything comes full circle on the record, a Nigerian Afrocentric soul singer teaming up with a Brazilian Afrobeat collective from Bahia to take you on a musical journey through their musical expressions, spirituality and culture to deliver a solid timeless piece of work.The “Lagos meets Bahia” music is soulful, charged up, political, unrepentant, edgy and experimental thus forming a very recognizable synergy between Okweis soulful minimalist vocals and the infectous bass lines and trumpets, the drums patterns, the rhythmic guitars, and the percussive sequences laid out by IFA Afrobeat together they both explored and harnessed their cultural, spiritual and musical similarities to deliver a blissful musical experience once again proving that the music which was created by the late great Fela Kuti is still growing and spreading under the tenets which were laid down by the Abami Eda himself.

Beats/Production:-  8/10

Lyrics:- 7/10

Composition/Arrangement:-  9/10

Best Verse:- Afro Woman 

Standout Track:- Axe

Musical Moment:- I just like the entire vibe on the project

Album Rating:-  8/10

Stream Okwei Odili And IFA Afrobeat EP HERE


PS:- The cover of the album was designed by the great Lemi Ghariokwu who designed and drew a lot of classic album covers for some of Fela Kutis biggest albums, going to that length shows authenticity and passion for the genre, I applaud that, I’m gonna need the LP when it drops.