Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK — The Sounds of Afrotronica — Album Review

Jazztronica | Funk | Afrobeat

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Ending off the month of April, we have an album that I managed to discover just in time, thanks to Spotify’s new releases page. But upon further inspection, I realised that this collaborative project between modern jazz sensations Kaidi Akinnibi and NK-OK, carries some kind of familiarity.

You may recall from my review of Nubiyan Twist’s Freedom Fables, that I was introduced to some of the tracks that teased said album, through Spotify’s Jazztronica playlist. A similar case could definitely be made for this brand new album. And seen as Kaidi & NK-OK are part of said playlist, that really highlights one of my favourite newfound music genres, I definitely felt that this album was worth a shot, before I even fully listened to it.

But as if I really needed more convincing, the initial skim-through of The Sounds of Afrotronica truly set my excitement to review this project in stone. Not only did each track seemingly feel completely unique from one-another in regards to their moods, the kind of energy it brought to the table resembled the likes of The Comet Is Coming’s Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, my favourite project of 2019. All of these feelings that I felt towards The Sounds of Afrotronica on my initial skim-through, remained after I gave the album its first full listen.

Despite carrying the nature of Jazztronica so well, The Sounds of Afrotronica takes things one step further; integrating some funk, afrobeat, and hip-hop influences into the mix, with thanks to Blue Lab Beats. this all culminates to create a remarkably strong batch of incredibly catchy tracks.

I love how, despite the bulk of this project being instrumental, that The Sounds of Afrotronica doesn’t necessarily constrain itself to being a completely instrumental project. With tracks like “Soul Makosa”, “Clash” and “Out of the Blue”, the lyrics add a additional layer to this project. But all in all, it is clear that the main focus of this project is to bring an energy unlike any project this year, and in my opinion, this project definitely succeeds in this.

I would say, however, that the pseudo title track of this record, “Planet Afrotronica” was the only track I felt unsure about. While I appreciated the track’s sunny and tropical warmth, I felt that there could’ve been a few more elements added it to really make it pop. This track was easily the most forgettable for me, and to this day, I still have to play it to remember how it sounds. In fact, I felt like it might’ve just been the only real thing that stopped this album from being a ten.

Save that one track, every other part of The Sounds of Afrotronica brings something exciting and unique, even if some of those tracks could’ve been more compact in terms of runtime. It not only was an exciting project from the start, but it continues to grow on me as I start to pick up on more of the tracks elements. I genuinely cannot wait for that perfect moment in the year to pair with this album, as I feel that it is most certainly on its way to being one of 2021’s most iconic musical highlights.

Favourite Tracks: Sweet Shop | Out of the Ruins | Assembly Line | Soul Makosa | Não Tem Mada Não | Clash

Least Favourite Track: Planet Afrotronica

Blue Adventure | AllPoints

Enjoyment: 10/10 | Memorability: 9/10 | Atmosphere: 10/10

Uniqueness: 9/10 | Satisfaction: 9/10 | Narrative: 8/10

Final Score: 9/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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