The album Who is this America? came up on my shuffle this morning, and I found myself wondering if I had ever written about Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, or if I have always just savored their music through my headphones. When you are living with tons of other people, you really do have to choose your moments for playing rambunctious and often discordant music. Especially when said music exists on a plane where resonant horn phrases and a decidedly political message are a necessity.
I wanted to share the song "Big Man" with my lovely readers, because it is the first song that I ever heard by Antibalas. Back in 2004, I was cruising in my parents' van, listening to WERS (this is more of an accomplishment than you know! In order to listen to WERS in that van, I had to alternate between stations to maintain a strong signal. At the same time, I was always trying to listen to the music. This is a difficult balancing act because your mind is occupied both with listening for the first hints of static and to the song that is currently playing.) Some goofy college student came on the radio and introduced "Antibalas...it means Anti-bullets. I can dig that!" The introduction didn't detract from the song, which is an neo-Afrobeat dance tune with an amazing underlying rhythm, and horn-work that made my heart sing. The lyrics are anti-Capitalist, but in a way that maintains a sense of personal responsibility, a quality I think is too often lost when political statements are turned into music. Unfortunately, a top-quality recording of "Big Man" is not available through YouTube, but I am going to share this with you anyway (I like the introduction):