Antibalas - Who Is This America?
Sep 9, 2019
72
[AOTY Album Randomizer Sunday: #5]

Not Sunday but bear with me. :/

"Damn, what's up with all these critic ratings?"

That was the first question I had in mind as soon as AOTY suggested this to me. Saw the album cover, the album title, the release date and immediately had thoughts in my mind about how it will sound like. My mind went "AH SHIT, HERE WE GO AGAIN". This was gonna be another one of those pop punk, Green Day - American Idiot "Fuck George W. Bush" rebellious records that flooded the mid 2000s! Oh boy, can't wait to be disappointed and annoyed YET AGAIN by an AOTY album pick.

Except, that was not what happened.

Yeah, turns out, you don't judge a book by its cover. Plus, it's not like the cover and date itself hinted that this was going to sound like pop punk Green Day. Nope, this was...an AFROBEAT album. Yeah, when I first turned this album on, I had a mindfuck moment. I was not expecting to hear something quite like this on a Sunday night!

In terms of the album itself, I'm actually quite surprised this isn't getting any attention at all on AOTY compared to RYM! Sure, it's a pretty old album, but this is some quality material, especially if you crave some modern Afrobeat sound.

The production on Who Is This America? is, shockingly, very crisp. Yet, at the same time, it's also a bit rough around the edges. I don't find the mixing to be particularly the most appealing, but I absolutely ADORE the instrumentation through most of the album. The tracks themselves definitely can be quite the chore to sit through. Some tracks stretch 10 to 20 minutes in length with only just a single interlude section in the middle. Sonically, it's rhythmically very repetitive, but full of energy. The political themes explored on here are consistently engaging as well!

Even though there are moments that don't quite leave an impression on me, for the most part, this was an incredibly enjoyable project. Not much else to say. Honestly, I can't seem to pinpoint what exactly makes this afrobeat protest album work so well. Everything seems so clean and well-assembled, it's definitely going to be a project I'll keep coming back to and appreciate.

After a few weeks of mediocre album picks, Who Is This America is an epic return to form for the random album button! Hit or Miss? Very much a HIT! Needs more ratings!

FAV TRACKS: Pay Back Africa, Indictment, Big Man, Sister

LEAST FAV TRACK: Elephant
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