Review: Ade Bantu’s Agberos International
After 6 or more years of gathering tunes, testing lyrics and troubleshooting sounds, 13-piece band Bantu has dropped a new 10-track offering titled ‘Agberos International’. Fans already familiar with the band from previous live performances will know what to expect and perhaps sing along to some of the songs on the album.
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to experience them, it is about time.
Titled ‘Agberos International’ because it alludes to bus touts and their custom of arresting attention, the album is a 51-minute roller-coaster joyride comprised of multifarious art forms. It is an audio-visual collection augmented by stunning shots from leading contemporary photographers Uche James-Iroha; Aderemi Adegbite, George Osodi, and Abiola Balogun.
The overall theme mainly political, makes it a jarring departure from the popular mainstream albums, as the call to action in each track is not just a dance invitation but a rousing of consciousness, politically and otherwise.
The first song on the album Afropunk jogs you into action right from the start, making you suddenly want to go in different directions simultaneously. The sound is as eccentric as it is electric─ a marriage of Afrobeat, funk and street panegyrics. The fast pace of this track is sure to electrify and leave you pondering the lyrics after the track is over.
Lagos Barbie, satirical, yet political, encourages African women to be proud of their natural endowments (especially their hair) and to prevailing notions of the superiority of Western fashion. It is a sweet blend of highlife and South African tunes.
Ireoluwa Allen dominates Ka Maa Dupe with her vocals as she invokes the spirit of gratitude in us. The track is replete with wise Yoruba proverbs, which further serve to drive home the message.
Afrobeat takes the spotlight once again in Niger Delta Blues, a reminder of the Niger Delta situation and how it is a Nigerian problem. Here, spoken word poetry is beautifully interlaced in the composition, which features 76-year-old Afrobeat co-creator, Tony Allen. Though the message is gloomy, the tone is upbeat.
Ma Ko Bami, a nostalgic medley comprising several Yoruba play songs, takes us down memory lane into the recesses of our childhood fantasies.
The rat race existence, which is the norm in metropolitan cities, is gently discouraged on Se Jeje. It is cruise control all the way on this one as the message is softly eased in, accompanied by instruments.
A ballad designed to sweep anyone away, Oni Temi benefits from the background laid by Se Jeje. Wana Udobang and lead vocalist Ade Bantu trade poetry until good old jazz is let loose. The spoken word on this one will make you thirst─ but not for water.
Stori Plenti switches gears; away from matters of the heart and back to politics. On it, you’ll come across accusatory lines such as “Dem go dey talk, dey talk, dey lie dey go”. It is at once a reminder and admonishment of the political class and details their endless deception of the masses.
The ruling class is again the focus on Anything for the Boys? ─ A slogan ubiquitously used in Nigeria to request favours or tips. It puts the masses in the compromising position of begging the ruling elites for a living. Thanks to elaborate percussion, the mood here isn’t sombre or depressing despite the serious message.
Eventually, Bantu finds his way home in Ile (Africa); a celebration of African roots, which features a distinctive funk rap by the artiste. There perhaps could not have been a better valedictory song from the ‘Agberos International’ than Ile.
July 26, 2019