Release Date: Apr 30, 2021
Record label: Blue Note
Genre(s): Rap, Jazz, R&B, Funk, Alternative Rap, British Rap, International, West African, African Traditions, Afro-beat, Nigerian, Contemporary Rap, African Rap
In a video from a Paris recording session in 2014, Tony Oladipo Allen jams behind a drum set, hands lightly grasping the sticks, his body at ease. His mind was likely laser-focused on the rhythms, and yet nothing about him reads tense or forced. In this moment, the late drummer, composer, and Fela Kuti collaborator personifies Black cool--a term that, to borrow from the Roots drummer Questlove's description, means Allen radiated "cool heat, intensity held in check by reserves of self-possession.
Had legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen spent the last years of his life cementing his legacy as an architect of Afrobeat, one would have been hard put to blame him. Surely he could have made a couple more great records in that mold, his spidery mastery over the kit still a thing to behold well into his 70s. This wasn't Allen's M.O., though, even if his prior Blue Note album The Source hemmed closer to that format (albeit with an extra sprinkle of hard bop in the recipe).