Chicago Afrobeat Project’s fourth studio album, Nyash Up!, will leave listeners with no other choice than to bob their heads and tap their toes to a combination of jazzy notes and unique rock beats.
Ten years after Chicago Afrobeat Project debuted, the eight-member group has climbed its way to help define the afrobeat genre. Nyash Up! takes on a different style than Chicago Afrobeat Project’s three previous albums. The band created the album’s debut song, “I Just Might Be Wrong Like That,” by mashing up songs from Radiohead and Fela Kuti. Chicago Afrobeat Project also uses Nyash Up! to reinterpret top songs from artists such as B.o.B., System of a Down, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Céu and 808 Street.
Chicago Afrobeat Project takes classic jazz notes and retunes them into hits with a funk beat. Nyash Up! has a unique sound of rock jazz, heard dominantly in “B.Y.O.B,” balanced with subtle jazz tones of suspense and thrill, as in “Roda,” to create a complementary album suitable for avid listeners of multiple genres. While taking in the music of Nyash Up!, listeners can hear the passion Chicago Afrobeat Project puts into its music through chord progressions and vivid saxophone solos.
Nyash Up! also features vocals, which Chicago Afrobeat Project does not generally include. The combination of brassy jazz instruments is enough to overtake some singing segments; however, songs such as “Inner City Blues Make Ya Wanna Holler” combines strong vocal chords to recreate the sounds of inner-city Chicago. Using collaborations of rap and blues, “Inner City Blues Make Ya Wanna Holler” forces listeners to rethink blues sounds. The track uses this mix of genres to produce meaningful messages listeners cannot miss. Other songs, such as “Pacific,” use baritone and tenor saxophones, keyboards, bass, drums and various percussion instruments to portray the sounds of early British techno puréed with classic afrobeat sounds. The result is a tribute to 808 State’s soul-filling Chicago-born house music.
Chicago Afrobeat Project takes Nyash Up! to an even higher level with their song “Colonial Waiting Room Mentality.” This track is the band’s personal mash-up of “Waiting Room,” originally by Fugazi, and “Colonial Mentality,” originally by Fela Kuti. The track is Chicago Afrobeat Project’s tribute to Fela Kuti, who introduced the world to the afrobeat genre. By changing Fela Kuti’s music into its own style, Chicago Afrobeat Project takes on the genre head-on and proves to listeners that it has a unique sound.
Nyash Up! has great collaborative sounds branching into jazz, funk, hip-hip and even R&B sounds. The lyrics added to tracks are clearly working towards making the album a better listening experience. Chicago Afrobeat Project will leave listeners with their legs mindlessly moving to the beat as they feel the enthusiasm of the featured artists through the rhythm and meter. Listeners looking for a fresh new set of tunes to clean the apartment to or hold a late night study session should check out Nyash Up! This album is one that is sure to keep anyone awake and focused.
The album drops worldwide today.