The 13-member collective BANTU around the German-Nigerian musician Ade celebrates the music of West Africa with its sound of Afrofunk and Afrobeat. In doing so, they have always denounced injustice – and continue to do so with the new album “What Is Your Breaking Point”.
Founded in Cologne in 1996, BANTU has long since made its home in the metropolis of Lagos. The album “What Is Your Breaking Point?” is the third part of an LP trilogy, which is full of social criticism and political appeal. Like Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti, among others, BANTU addresses developments in Nigeria and beyond.
In the Afrobeat tradition, the sound around singer Ade Bantu is often very rich and bursting with groove. Drums and other percussions are together with the tireless bass the driving engines of the songs. The tracks live on funky guitars, but especially on the rich harmonies of the style-typical horn section or the catchy backing vocals, which work next to the vocal passages of Ade Bantu like inciting slogans.
It is about corruption and abuse of power, about poverty and lack of perspective, about migration and anger as well as equality and self-determination of women. With guest rapper Akua Naru, a second, female lead voice is also represented on the album for the first time.
At the forefront is the will to stand up against injustice. For BANTU, the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria 2020 plays a central role. According to the report, the protests against police violence represent a “breaking point” in Nigerian society, a young generation demanding political change.
“There was such a point where the youth discovered their voice,” Ade Bantu said.
But she was also disappointed in the presidential election in early 2023: They had high hopes for Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, who did not make the race, according to official Electoral Commission data, a claim challenged by the opposition, citing irregularities.
The country of 220 million – Africa’s richest, after all – is mired in a serious economic crisis and is repeatedly rocked by Boko Haram, one of the world’s most brutal terror groups.
“People are just tired,” Ade Bantu says. “We have had quite a tough few months.” BANTU asks the question, “When is enough enough? When does the mood tip?” They provide the sound for this “breaking point.”
Completing the trilogy
Ade Bantu is known for music with a message, for example as the founder of the hip-hop and reggae collective “Brothers Keepers,” which was active against racism in Germany in the noughties.
BANTU, whose name stands for “Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity,” is also critical of society. So the goal is to unite people – in Nigeria and beyond.
Previous albums “Agberos International” and “Everybody Get Agenda” were released three years apart, as is the new title “What Is Your Breaking Point?”, which rings even louder with its messages.
Afropolitan Vibes festival
Harnessing the power of music for the community is something that Ade Bantu also does when organizing various events. In Lagos, he founded a festival that has greatly influenced the local concert scene. Artists like Yemi Alade, Burna Boy and Teni who have achieved global success had the opportunity to perform at Afropolitan Vibes early in their careers.
Artists from Germany have also performed at the festival and an international network has been created as a result. Recently, the first offshoot of this festival was even held at the Cologne club Odonien with live performances by Bantu and their guests such as Megaloh or Mariama and sets by DJs Barulho World.
NMR (photo: press Bantu)