Monomono Give the Beggar... A Chance

Joni Hasstrup has suffered a few strokes in recent years. His band's, Monomono, 1972 debut, Give the Beggar... A Chance, is a stroke of musical genius. Throughout, Hasstrups's dismay with his Nigerian brothers and sisters, who still felt reliant on British rule, is evident in his lyrics. On "Find Out," he proclaims: "Don't let nobody mess your brain around/the world is round, so you better find out/the nitty gritty of everything." Hasstrup's shrieking vocal proclamations, combined with the bass and percussion at the beginning of "The World Might Fall Over," are wholly captivating. Written in London and recorded in Lagos, this release is heavily informed and inspired by Hasstrup's experience touring with Ginger Baker in the late '60s. The influence of jazz-rock fusion is unmistakable throughout the intro of "E Je 'A Mura Sise" or Joni's organ licks on "Kenimania." Poetically frank protest lyrics make this killer Soundway reissue unique. Monomono's message to their listeners was simple yet profound. The album ebbs and flows with an underlying feeling of political awareness that attempted to evoke change in '70s Nigeria, a concrete jungle no longer shaded by the umbrella of British colonialism. Forty years later, it's still burning. This is highly recommended for anyone looking to add some sublime West African protest songs to their library. (Soundway)