As follow up to their recent single, Disrupt The Programme, a call for action track released in April, BANTU (Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity) is back with yet another conscious single, Animal Carnival.
Released globally on May 29, the premise of Animal Carnival is a simple question, how does one make sense of the outlandish and insane realities of Nigeria where corruption and kleptocracy has now reached staggering new heights, with missing funds being attributed to devious acts of the supernatural?
“Bizarre stories of creatures such as a snakes allegedly ingesting millions of Naira, roguish gang of monkeys carting away public money stashed by a senator in his farmhouse or a gorilla miraculously swallowing the entire earnings of a zoo have become the norm.
No one in Nigeria seems to be safe from these malicious beastly threats,” Ade Bantu, leader of the band said.
Inspired by these events, the band recorded the satirical song Animal Carnival. Armed with an infectious tightly-locked groove, a crisp and punchy horn section and lyrics that speak truth to power, the 13-piece Lagos-based collective takes no prisoners as it weaves a musical narrative that explores the length and breadth of Afrobeat, Afrofunk and its Yoruba music roots.
Known for their social commentary, BANTU decries the condescending, inhumane attitude of the ruling class and how they have systematically plummeted the masses into total submission and are turning a nation of 200 million people into a circus show where anything and everything goes.
An animated lyrics video drives this point home with its witty images of thieving animals and a reoccurring cast of bats morphing into rats and birds as the band sings the chorus line in Yoruba “Kò sẹ ékú kò sẹ ẹyẹ / Àdán ò sẹ ékú kò s’ẹyẹ (it’s not a rat, it’s not a bird, the bat is not a rat neither is it a bird), thus underlying the magical realism in which crimes against a citizenry are increasingly obscured and swept under the rug.
Animal Carnival and Disrupt The Programme both set the tone for BANTU’s forthcoming album, Everybody Get Agenda, due to be released in September this year.
Meanwhile, leader of the band Ade Bantu has paid glowing tribute to the late reggae music icon Majek Fashek, who passed on recently in the United States of America.
In his tribute, Bantu said, “Once again, death has dealt a devastating blow to music lovers across the globe. The news of Majek Fashek’s passing will need some time to sink in. These days, the grim ripper seems to be working overtime and I feel like I’m becoming numb from mourning musical icons, elders, friends and colleagues. Yet, we must find the words to try to convey meaning to the life and legacy of one of Africa’s most iconic reggae and music stars.”
Bantu described the Rainmaker as a gifted vocalist with a rare vulnerability and sincerity in his delivery that people instantly connected to.
His voice was sweet and beautifully textured and perfectly suited for his unique style of reggae music that combined Jamaican rhythms with talking drums, highlife and other West African sounds. It’s no wonder he took the world by storm and he was quickly signed on to an international record deal with CBS/Sony after his groundbreaking album Prisoner of Conscience.”
He observed that Majek’s career was a rock and roll fairytale of all the imaginable highs and lows, “yet he ploughed on with a dare devilish defiance and like the phoenix from the ashes, he would rise more than once again. I kept tabs on him, watching from a distance as a fan; I studied his music and works, and was particularly intrigued by the sound design on his ambitious album project Spirit of Love.”
Bantu continued: “A few years ago, I had the distinct honour of finally getting to work with him on our Afropolitan Vibes concert series where we’d invited him to perform as a surprise guest with my band, BANTU after one of our headliners pulled out last minute. I will never forget the chills that went down my spine when I announced his name and the crowd roared in excitement as they went into a wild frenzy. Once we struck the first chords to Send Down The Rain, there was no holding back, as three thousand fans sang the words to his songs line for line for the next 20 minutes. It was there and then that I understood the magic and power of Majek Fashek and what he meant to so many people,” he said.
To Bantu, “Majek Fashek was a true original in every sense of the word and I am glad we struck a friendship and got to work a few more times. I will miss the affectionate banter and laughter we shared at rehearsals and off stage.”