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Soul Explosion

The Daktaris

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Album Review

The Daktaris' 1998 debut, Soul Explosion, is dedicated to the memory of Fela Kuti, who pretty much single-handedly invented Afro-beat. The Daktaris are clearly influenced by Fela's signature style, mixing jazz and funk riffs with the hypnotic rhythms of his native Nigeria, but their groove-oriented music is much more accessible to the novice listener than Fela's occasionally fearsome soul stew. Where Fela was heavily influenced by both psychedelia and free jazz, the Daktaris are more like the Kool & the Gang (circa "Jungle Boogie") of Afro-beat: their music is deeply, undeniably funky, but the concise song lengths and well-structured solos keep the players in check. This is exotic music, but it's in no way difficult; anyone who loves Mothership Connection or One Nation Under a Groove will have no trouble with the slinky rhythms of the two-part "Musicawa Slitâ" or the respectful cover of James Brown's "Give It up Turn It Loose." Those already familiar with Afro-beat might find Soul Explosion a little tame, but it's an excellent introduction to the style.

Biography

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s

The Daktaris were an Afro-beat group on the New York-based funk revival label Desco, recording compact, Fela Kuti-style grooves that sounded as though they'd come straight out of 1970s Nigeria. At first, Desco did nothing to discourage that perception, packaging their 1998 album Soul Explosion to look like an authentically African collector's dream, and even giving some of the band members Nigerian aliases. But in reality, the Daktaris were Brooklyn-based studio musicians, many of them white, many...
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Soul Explosion, The Daktaris
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