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Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1
Various Nick Roseblade , May 13th, 2021 08:02

Tracks by Osayomore Joseph, Victor Uwaifo, and Akaba Man offer a glimpse into the driving, day-glo world of edo funk

There is something awe-inspiring about finding an album in a shop that you know next to nothing about. Taking it home and having your perceptions changed. In 2012 I was browsing in a local record shop and I came across an album called The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Africa. There were two versions. One was the standard release but for an extra couple of pounds there was another one that had a bonus CD. The extra CD was Ekassa by Victor Uwaifo. The name was familiar but the album wasn’t. It was a mixture of surf-sounding guitars, funk rhythms, and gloriously crooning vocals. It was totally captivating. From that moment Victor was my guy and I hunted his work out whenever I went digging in record shops.

The Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 features four songs by Sir Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis, none of which I previously knew. Four songs by Akaba Man and four by Osayomore Joseph. These are effectively the pioneers, and originators, of Edo Funk. A hybrid music that mixed traditional rhythms, highlife horns, driving drums, day-glo keyboards, and wonky guitars. It reduced everything down to the bare minimum and sounds incredible for it. The music is far less formal than the Nigerian disco that was coming out of Lagos at the same time.

There is something incredibly vibrant to these recordings. The songs are tight and constructed around a repeating, almost droning riff. These aren’t dark or ominous drones. Instead, they are filled with life and ecstatic energy. Take ‘Obviemama’ by Sir Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis or ‘Who No Man’ by Osayomore Joseph and the Ulele Power Sound for example. They sound massive. The verses are sung over these bouncy drones until the chorus. Then the main motif is changed and elongated before the band slot back into the original groove again and just play for all their worth.

If this is your first exposure to Edo Funk then you have been given the foundations to go off and explore this transfixing, yet largely overlooked, genre. If you are an Edo Funk head, then hopefully you’ll hear something that you hadn’t heard before. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. The music is fantastic and fascinating. It tells the story of how a few individuals created music that is still breath-taking and inventive decades later.

After listening to Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 I immediately started digging out my other albums. The music still exciting in a way that I still find unexpected, despite playing the songs a lot over the years. One thing is still certain though. Victor is still my guy. Maybe he could be yours too.