Ekiti Sound - Abeg No Vex (Crammed Discs)
Add Date: 04/23/2019
FCC Tracks: 3 & 6
Focus Tracks: 4, 7, & 12
Formats: Electronic, Hip Hop, & World
Artist Info: Ekiti Sound spearhead a new musical dialogue between London and Lagos. His debut album wires novel musical circuitry into shape, soldering UK soundsystem culture, hip-hop and Afrobeat into new, haywire connections, a diverse chorus of global voices routed through its new configurations. It's a starkly original record, built up of layered musical histories, papered over one another into a messy, exhilarating collage of sounds.
Roots are important to Leke (aka CHiF), the musician / vocalist / producer behind Ekiti Sound. His adopted name is a nod to the Nigerian state, Ekiti, where his father was born. ABEG NO VEX clatters the bass frequencies of UK soundsystems - from drum & bass to dubstep and funky house - with the styles and traditions of Nigeria. That includes Fela Kuti, who he first heard at age 11, the soundtrack to a nearby neighbours' family gathering in Lagos.
His relationship with his family and Nigeria, form the pillars: Culture, Love, Identity and Family as the important factors in the album. His prodigal return home to Lagos altered his perspective on the culture of his home country. "I had to dive into this culture to verify that I had not lost my identity," he says. "The music allowed me to find who I really was. ABEG NO VEX is really no the result of a decision, but a search, a cultural tilt, an emotional movement."
Growing up, Leke's family repeatedly moved back and forth between the UK and Nigeria, most often between their two capitals, London and Lagos. He's continued to be based between the two, laying down roots in both cities as an adult working as a sound editor both for Nollywood, the booming film industry in Nigeria, as well as for the UK's esteemed Pinewood Studios. "The album is the soundtrack to the new diaspora," Leke says, its tracks soaked in the memories of his different homes: from squat parties in Hackney Wick warehouses, in East London, to hanging out at Fela's shrine in Ikeja.
His influences span from golden era '90s hip-hop to Gershwin, many of his formative influences heard through the radio, which he would - unwittingly - record and cut into what were essentially DIY edits. He would tape tracks by the Four Tops, James Brown and iconic soul imprint Stax Records - the latter, for the drumming work of Al Jackson Jr - and splice together the parts whose rhythms grabbed his attention. In the late 90s, drum & bass raves in London were the next step in his musical evolution, enraptured by the UK capital's dominant sound in that period. "I've always found the polyrhythmic intricacy of D&B drum programming very inspiring," he says, "and it does pop up in some of my drum programming in subtle ways."
Leke is part of a burgeoning music scene in Lagos. He is the founder of Lagos Music Conference, part of his efforts to encourage the creative energy that's once again captured the city. "The amount of attention we are receiving now hasn't been like that since the mid 70s," he says. This includes his film work, where he's collaborated the directors like Abba Makama (director of Green White Green). "We are actively creating a new narrative for the modern African experience with a global perspective," he says.
The records speaks to a multiplicity of perspectives and places. In language, for one, it slides from Yoruba, to pidgin and English - spoken, rapped or sung - sometimes in the course of one song. It's fragmented and unified all at once, cohesive in its celebration of difference. "It's a way of paying tribute to where I come from," Leke says. "It will help circulate this name which represents the energy that my parents gave me."