You rely on Okayplayer as your purveyor of the freshest, hottest records out there. So it pains me to confess that you’re now reading a review of a record that originally came out in November last year. But it’s not really our fault, but Ekundayo’s, because this Pan-American supergroup have made a record that’s as challenging as it is rewarding. So challenging in fact, it could easily take you nine months to get your head around it. Ostensibly, it’s hip-hop. But if it’s hip-hop, it’s most certainly at the adventurous end of the spectrum. It brings together musicians from the musical undergrounds of Brooklyn, Chicago and São Paolo–and then throws them curveball after curveball.
First, some facts. On the mic is Mike Ladd, complemented by two MCs from Brazil’s Mamelo Sound System R. Brandão and Lurdez Da Luz. Production is from Scotty Hard, and percussion is in the very capable hands of the legendary Brazilian master Naná Vasconcelos, “avant jazzer” Rob Mazurek from Chicago Underground is on trumpet and Stu Brooks and Melvin Gibbs from Black Rock Coalition/Defunkt are on bass. And the sound they make together is as diverse as their backgrounds. Indeed, it’s hard to say exactly what Ekundayo is. But whatever it is…is certainly worthy of your attention.
There are hints of samba, afrobeat, jazz, funk (a lot of funk) and cutting edge electronica, and all these genres swirl round as the multi-lingual MCs trade verses. Sometimes it’s devastatingly simple, sometimes it’s far out, but it’s never less than fascinating. Don’t sleep on Ekundayo. We may have done, but you certainly don’t have to any more.