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Seven Degrees North

King Sunny Ade

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Album Review

As King Sunny Ade embodies good humor and unflagging desire to realize a brighter future for Nigeria and its people, the music from his 23 piece band overflows with a buoyant optimism that is indelibly energetic and celebratory. Songs that praise the sacred ("Appreciation" and "Merciful God") and honor the ancient Yoruban King Sijuade Olubuse Okunande ("Sijuade") are interspersed with songs that ask for ("Solution") and offer guidance on such things as finding your path in life or making sure that the string on a dancer's bikini doesn't break ("Ogidan O Ni Se Barber" and "Samba," respectively). The most nimbly played track on the CD, "Ariya," begins with a series of synchronized punctuations, smoothly darts forward at an impressive pace, and then — about half way through — breaks down into an even more accelerated percussion jam that highlights a talking drum solo. Signaling the end of the tune with a trail of notes from his guitar, Ade comes back in with the other instruments of the band moments before the tune fades out. Other notable characteristics on the CD include the polished harmonies on such songs as "Appreciation," the tasty guitar melodies on songs like "Solution," and the elastic steel guitar lines by Biodun Fatoke. Seven Degrees North — which refers the relative equatorial position of Lagos, Nigeria — is the third Mesa release by the royal Yoruban. Though it has been almost 40 years since he began playing highlife and 30 years since he debuted his sounds for large American audiences, King Sunny Ade's Seven Degrees North does not drag. On the contrary, he and his band crank out good humored, upbeat, intelligent, and smartly constructed tunes that make one want to dance in celebration of Nigeria's determination and future.

Biography

Born: 20 September 1946 in Oshogbo, Nigeria

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

King Sunny Ade is the undisputed king of juju music, the dance-inspiring hybrid of western pop and traditional African music with roots in the guitar tradition of Nigeria. Although he's yet to equal the success that he enjoyed with his early-'80s albums and American tours, Ade and his band, His African Beats, continue to weave an infectious blend of electric guitars, synthesizers and multi-layered percussion. Born to a family of Nigerian royalty, Ade left school to pursue a career in music. In the...
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Seven Degrees North, King Sunny Ade
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