All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Kuku: Ballads & Blasphemy

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
Yorubaland is a region of southwest Nigeria which extends into parts of Benin and Togo. It is the ancestral homeland of the Yoruba people, and remains a vital source of cultural identity, especially spiritual music and rhythms. Kuku is a singer/songwriter who though born in the United States, is a Yoruba Nigerian, now residing in Paris. He has been in a cross-cultural existence his whole life, brought to light in his 2012 release "Soldier of Peace." Ballads & Blasphemy finds him melodically traveling those embryonic currents connecting his Yoruba heritage to his modern life in America and Europe.

Kuku sings in several languages, but his message is straight and to the point, that a lot of what is wrong in the present world has its beginnings in the past, and man has been culpable of his own ruination. He intentionally questions the religious dogmas and offers answers or observations on what might be a more ethical solution. His songs are categorized as gospels, from the perspective that anyone, especially a singer, can be a preacher, and he has a valid point.

There is a disclosed Fela Kuti influence, which is understandable since Kuti is the most famous Nigerian musician in history, whose shadow is vast and enduring. "Wáya" features Kuti's drummer Tony Allen and tells of the African family pressures on marriage and finding a spouse. Allen again appears on "Owó," a laid back tale of how money has become man's god. "Evildoers," and "Your Eyes While You Pray," are self-explanatory on how much evil and violence is done under a religious guise, and one must be aware of false prophets.

It is on the homages to his homeland as in "Ekó," which was the ancestral name for Lagos, and "Africa Jomí Lojú," that Kuku comes into his own, praising Africa for what is rightfully African, and all that it entails. "La Derniére Fois," is reminiscent of the call and response hymn "Wade in the Water," save for its hypnotic drumming, which is pure Yoruba. But his most poignant song is arguably "Is It All A Game," with the title being the question he asks on life situations for the common man.

Ballads & Blasphemy is a record that requires several listening sessions to get a proper feel from where Kuku is coming from. He submits a philosophical concept on how humanity could certainly use some improvements, and does it within the musical framework of the Yoruba culture. He speaks and sings from the heart of an African who has straddled the ocean and seen life from both sides. He recognizes the problems the world shares, and provides his songs as solutions or remedies, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Track Listing: Wáya; Evil Doers; Open Your Eyes While You Pray; Alárópín; Ekó; Owó; Is It All A Game; Iwá Rere; La Derniere Fois; Africa Jomí Lojú; Is There A Heaven.

Personnel: Kuku: voice, acoustic guitar, udu; Cyril Atef: drums (3); Hilaire Penda: bass (1, 4, 7, 10); Jean-Emmanuel Faina: cajon, congas, drums; Jordan Ringo: double bass: (2, 3, 6, 11); Misja Fitzgerald Michel: guitar (11); Arnaud “Nya” Colucci: bass (9); Tony Allen: drums (1, 6).

Title: Ballads & Blasphemy | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Buda Musique

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Selective Coverage CD/LP/Track Review
Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read "Aqustico vol 2" CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)" CD/LP/Track Review Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "Influx" CD/LP/Track Review Influx
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: March 4, 2018
Read "Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 23, 2018
Read "e.s.t. live in london" CD/LP/Track Review e.s.t. live in london
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 1, 2018
Read "Falando Docemente" CD/LP/Track Review Falando Docemente
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 13, 2017