Audio

First Listen: Lagos Group Bantu Will Make You Dance With 'Agberos International'

Listen to the 13-piece band's new album, which straddles afrobeat, hip-hop, highlife, and Yoruba music.

NIGERIA—Bantu is a Lagos-based 13-piece band. Their music straddles genres such as afrobeat, hip-hop, afrofunk, highlife and Yoruba music.


The group just released its new album Agberos International—Agbero” is Yoruba slang for public vehicle conductor.

Lyrically the album is political. It provides strong criticism of the Nigerian ruling class and harmful Western policies. For instance, the song “Niger Delta Blues,” talks about the difficulties faced by ordinary people in the oil producing Niger Delta region. And “Lagos Barbie” is a satirical take on Eurocentric standards of beauty among black women.

According to the crew, Agberos International represents a quest for liberation. “We wanted to set the record straight and break free from all the labels people keep trying to apply when wanting to describe us or our music,” says Ade Bantu, the crew’s leading vocalist.

The album will engage you lyrically, while keeping you sweaty on the dance floor with its afrobeat-centric production.

For a breakdown of each song and the inspiration behind Agberos International, visit the band's website.

Stream Bantu's latest album below and purchase it here.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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