28/10/2023Sensational Nigerian Afrobeat Twelve-Piece Lagos Thugs Releases Four-Track Debut Album

Lagos Thugs. Let that ruminate before you jump to conclusions. What may sound slightly menacing at first is actually the name of a rising new afrobeat project. Hailing from the most populous city in Nigeria, this sensational twelve-piece is the latest proponent of a genre born from the legacy of Fela Kuti and his drummer Tony Allen and is currently blazing a trail of its own. The group just unveiled its four-track debut album earlier this month with a vinyl version expected to follow suit early next year. But before we get ahead of ourselves, here's a quick rundown of their route to success:

Founded in 2020 by singer and saxophonist Adetunji Adeyemi, the 15-piece group originally called "The Lagos Thugs Afrobeat" quickly made a name for itself on the local circuit and gained even broader international acclaim, when they performed for the Sofar Sounds format. Even Fela Kuti's trumpeter Muyiwa Kunnuji was impressed by their dynamic approach: "Fifteen musicians, in their twenties, playing exactly as we did. The same energy!" They began touring and opening for many of Seun Kuti's shows and will actually be featuring on the upcoming Netflix documentary by Brooklyn-based outfit Antibalas, but that's another story.

Late in 2021, Lagos Thugs reached out to DJ Ness Afro (Ness Radio / Afrodiziak) to work on their very first single "INNOCENT BLOOD (Let it be known)", which featured on the latest compilation by French producer extraordinaire GUTS ("Straight from the Decks 3") released a few months ago on Heavenly Sweetness. The band continued to work with Ness and his team in Paris, including sound engineer Kino Doscun, to produce "a warm analog 70s unique raw sound" that would set them apart from most contemporary afrobeat productions. Additional support was provided by Lee Bright of Tangential Music.

And now the "CHAOS" is ripe. Three years in the making, the group's debut effort consists of four tracks with a playing time of over half an hour. Kicking off with a respectful tip of the hat to the genre's originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti on "KALAKUTA PRESIDENT", horns blaring, a boisterous fanfare heralding their arrival, they transition to their borderline balearic sophomore single "NEW IMPROVED ELEPHANTS", which quickly picks up pace while maintaining its laid-back swagger. "WETIN I SEE" (featuring Fela's Egypt 80 guitarist Kiala Nzavotunga) takes it from there, making a similarly melodic, drums-led entrance, evolving into a killer groove, before "INNOCENT BLOOD", their first single, takes it down a notch, bringing the powerful affair to a fitting sing-along close.

You can now stream "CHAOS" in full on your streaming service of choice and get to know the band in the short video introduction below, but best catch them live. No doubt Lagos Thugs are coming for the crown. Stay tuned.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom