Country : Nigeria Label : Soul Jazz Genres and styles : Africa / Afropop / West African Traditional Year : 2020

Blessing

· by Jean Bourbeau

The ever-pertinent London-based label Soul Jazz Records continues its exploration of the African continent with a second release of fuji music. Alhaji “Chief” Kollington Ayinla & His Fuji ’78 Organization are in the spotlight with the re-release of their forgotten classic, pressed only in Nigeria in 1978. A tireless artist with some 50 releases to his credit, Kollington Ayinla was a leading figure in the genre during the 1980s, a decade in which fuji became a fixture on the Lagos scene.

Little known outside the Yoruba region where the Nigerian capital is located, this music is based on improvised songs born of ajisãrì, a musical wake-up for the faithful at Ramadan to begin preparing suhur, the first meal of the day. Little by little during the 20th century, fuji transformed from sacred music to street sound, recovered by the Muslim working-class districts. Its raw, polyrhythmic sound brings to the forefront the improvisational talents of a boisterous singer. The genre therefore bears close similarities to dancehall or hip hop. The singer-songwriter shares his secrets and his sociopolitical commentary by way of lyrical gospel. These songs have become the occasion for competition between the various lyricists in the community, creating its share of rivalries, from which Kollington Ayinla has not escaped.

The eloquent opening track, “E Ye Ika Se”, which is based on infectious synthesiser lines, is reminiscent of the flamboyance of Cape Verde’s digital funaná. Not far from their Ghanaian cousins highlife, King Sunny Adé’s jùjú percussion or Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afrobeat, the next ten tracks on Blessing are layered with batá drums, cheap synthesizers and guitars backed by an omnipresent melodic chorus. The soul of the work remains the imperial voice of Kollington Ayinla, a charismatically guide through each piece. The overall effect is quite intense, and develops a chemistry that’s close to feverish. Highly recommended for followers of Olatunji and Aby Ngana Diop.

TO LISTEN TO THE ALBUM ON THE WEBSITE OF THE SOUL JAZZ LABEL

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