new music: uk grime artist afrikan boy balances social activism and club bangers on his debut ‘the ab cd’ #soundcheck

September 23, 2014

In the 7 years since bursting onto the scene with a guest spot on MIA’s “Paper Planes” remix, Afrikan Boy has made a name for himself as one of the leading lights of the UK’s grime scene. After 7 years of critical accolades, and an appropriately titled mixtape What Took You So Long?, Afrikan Boy drops his debut record The AB CD. And it was worth the wait.

Words by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

The album balances club bangers with the Afrobeat inspired tracks that make Afrikan Boy stand out. For every “Y.A.M.” destined to kill on the dance floor, there’s a more radical “Mr Kunta Kinte.” Afrikan Boy does an admirable job mixing tracks about getting fucked up with more nuanced takes on the immigrant experience. Meanwhile tracks like “Sunshine” with its infectious Fela Kuti sample, and undeniable pop hook proudly say nothing beyond a simple celebration of life.

“Show Me Your Leader” is a sort of “Cult of Personality” esque take-down of the “Great Men” theory of history with no shortage of vitriol for the Church. Heavy guitars replace the synth squiggles and clean highlife guitars of his other tracks. As Afrikan Boy continues to balance being an artist with shit to say and being an entertainer who wants to make people dance, he finds compelling space in the middle. If there’s nothing else to learn from Fela Kuti, it’s that some of the best music can be found in that space.

The AB CD is available through iTunes.

Photo by Hassan Hajjaj