Ben Okri, Skepta Feature In Tony Allen’s Posthumous Record, Cosmosis
Before he died in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in April last year, Tony Oladapo Allen had built a sturdy legend, as one of the most innovative drummers and musicians that sprang from Africa.
In his 79 years of living, Allen had grown from Fela Kuti’s main drummer and musical director of the Afrobeat legend’s Africa 70 band, for 11 years – between 1968 and 1979. It was under the shelter of his radically fluid and innovative drumbeats that the Afrobeat genre was born by Fela Kuti. After he parted ways with Fela, Allen flourished for several decades, experimenting with different sounds such as funk, while exploring the evergreen concept of Nigerian living in his songs.
In Cosmosis, Allen enlists the literary wit of the award-winning veteran Nigerian novelist, Ben Okri, alongside slow-paced vocals from British-Nigerian rapper, Skepta.
“We were in the studio with Damon Albarn and Remi Kabaka and Tony said, I lay out this universe in which dreams can come forth, and then I understood that for him the beat he lays out is like this textual landscape. It has a psychic structure or DNA of a universe of music for which Tony had worked out a kind of mathematical basis for it in his elliptical beats, and then an invitation to dream could been given,” Okri explains in a recent interview with Udiscovermusic.
“Writing Cosmosis was a tribute to Tony because it was written to ask ‘How do you absorb a cosmos or integrate a cosmos, enrich a world, infiltrate in the highest possible way and change the mentalverse, the spiritverse – it’s by cosmosis.”
Allen’s objective, while making the album before he died, was to make music that connects with and “brings the young rappers” back home. His main producer, Vincent Taegar, explains that despite Allen passing away before he got a chance to record with most of the artistes he had selected, he had already laid the foundation for most of the songs and it just gave room for the musicians to freely express their ideas in connection with what Allen wanted.
The full album is slated for release by April 30, across digital streaming platforms.