El Imperio Press Image Square
El Imperio Press Image Square

OKP Premiere: El Imperio Find Afro-Tinged Excellence On "Lost Myself"

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Fashioning a structure within the wide-open stylings of afrobeat isn't an easy task; the genre is one given to interludes and solo sections that stretch out over many minutes, drawing listeners and band members alike into a euphoric trance. New York City quintet El Imperio, though, prove not just that it can--and should--be done. The band has found a brilliant third way, blending hypnotic grooves with familiar transitions and vital, anthemic choruses, and have put their approach on full display with their new single "Lost Myself."

El Imperio's members banded together through many long nights performing in the house band for Fela!, the legendary Broadway production dedicated to afrobeat's leading figure. Now operating outside of the theater pit, the group blends Nigerian rhythms with Dominican Bachata, Latin salsa and a healthy helping of soul. The bass has been brought up and the drums are allowed to wander; something truly new and thrilling is alive inside their songs.

In an email to Okayplayer, El Imperio attested to be "quivering with excitement" as they approach the completion of their debut album, but on "Lost Myself" they're already standing tall in triumph. Electric guitars and bass sway back and forth in lockstep as vocals build and bounce upon synthesizers. Sure, it's a song about a girl--but really, the groove is what matters most. El Imperio is currently ironing out the kinks in their plans to tour the Yucatan Peninsula ("pending final approval from cartel heads," they say), and attest to being organized around a simple mission: "to change hearts and minds through the shaking of the booty and the searing of the soul."

Listen to the world premiere of "Lost Myself" below, and if you're in New York City, catch El Imperio playing an EP release show at Black Bear bar in Brooklyn on October 22nd. We'll see you there.