Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble Winners Never Quit

Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble Winners Never Quit
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The Toronto-based incarnation of Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble are all about the authentic Afrobeat sounds. The nine-piece outfit — led by Nigerian frontman Foly Kolade, who previously led a New York City version of the band — carefully balance the traditional call-and-response, chants and high-energy polyrhythms on debut effort Winners Never Quit.
 
A brisk listen at eight tracks, the LP features English and Yoruba lyrics, and the always pertinent and intimate themes of perseverance, socio-political subjects and cultural/intellectual integrity.
 
"No more knows the future… life is full of mystery," proclaims Kolade on opening track "Nobody Knows Tomorrow." It's not a particularly profound statement, but Kolade drives home the inspiring message nicely. Elsewhere, tracks like the horn-driven "Dumb Intellectuals," the downtempo groove of "Elegbede" and the more modern jazz sensibilities of "Winners Never Quit" demonstrate musical craft in action, evoking emotional responses in addition to a head sway or three. The standout number here is the funk punctuation that carries "Olofofo" to danceable highs.
 
Winners Never Quit is an effective debut — buoyant, vibrant and powerful — that upholds the Afrobeat legacy to grand effect. (Independent)