Sila & the AfroFunk Experience 

The Funkiest Man in Africa

One of the best world music albums this year comes from our own soil. Kenyan expatriate and SF resident Sila's debut CD with the AfroFunk Experience draws from a wide variety of influences like Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley, and Fela Kuti. It also covers a diverse spectrum of African-inflected sounds — from Nigerian Afrobeat to Congolese soukous to South African township jive to Senegalese Casamance music to Afro-Brazilian samba to Jamaican reggae. The grooves remain focused, though, and Sila's impassioned vocals, sung mainly in English, easily move from Fela-esque sing-speak to traditional call-and-response to poignant balladry. He's just as effective at party-oriented tunes like "Dancing Shoes" as on socially aware anthems. Throbbing melodic lines inform every track, delivered with reggae-style bass lines, soulful guitar runs, extended percussion breaks, and horn arrangements which span the gamut from punchy to melancholy. If he's not the funkiest man in all of Africa, Sila can at least claim that title for the Bay Area.

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