Brooklyn-based collective Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is the proud musical descendant of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The Nigerian-born singer/activist is known as Africa's Bob Marley and credited as the creator of Afrobeat, an amalgam of West African horn-heavy highlife, funk and jazz. Working within the framework established by Kuti and enhancing it with hip-hop, Latin jazz and other contemporary influences, Antibalas creates sweaty, funky jams with a decidedly political slant. The ensemble's fifteen members make their joyful joints on this year's Who Is This America? using dozens of percussion instruments, guitars, horns, keyboards and bass. Toastmaster and bari-sax player Martín Perna leads the orchestra through sprawling, extended, polyrhythmic grooves that cover a lot of musical ground -- from Baaba Maal to James Brown -- without ever losing the beat. Since 1998, Antibalas has established a reputation for exhilarating, steamy live shows, lighting up the party while touring close to 300 days a year.
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