KO.G and the Zongo Brigade’s debut album Wahala Wahala is afro-fusion at its finest. The long-awaited record demonstrates depth, maturity and flair, showing unexpected new sides to the renowned genre-bending party-starters.
If you’ve ever seen K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade live, you’ll know that they bring massive amounts of energy. Their mastery of diverse rhythms spanning genres from funk to afrobeat has led to their international reputation for getting people moving and bringing big party vibes. The record certainly delivers on this – tunes like Agoro and Mad Up spring to mind. But the real joy of a record like this is that it goes beyond simply capturing the band’s live energy. Wahala Wahala takes the listener to new, unexpected depths.
Multi instrumentalist and afro-fusion pioneer K.O.G (an acronym for Kweku of Ghana) has been making waves across the UK and internationally for some years now. Besides his work with the Zongo Brigade, he is known for providing vocals for afro-futurist project ONIPA, and the phenomenally talented afro-jazz behemoth Nubiyan Twist. So it’s with much anticipation that we’ve been waiting to hear what K.O.G would do in the studio with his eponymous project.
WATCH NOW: K.O.G & THE ZONGO BRIGADE – FOR MY PEOPLE
If you’re hoping for big brassy hooks and afrobeat grooves , then the album’s opening track, For My People, does not disappointment. And when we get to Money, the second track of the record, things start to get really interesting. Combining afrobeat rhythms and hooks with mbira and spacious guitar arrangements, the song explores the worries of economic life in rural Ghana, inviting the listener to relate to it as a microcosm of economic problems faced across the world.
It’s Money where we really see start the album’s theme of
Stand out tracks such as the tender and reflective Home are punctuated by a series of striking skits and segues. The disarming Imela marks an introspective moment in the middle of the record, drawing heavy influence from blues and gospel vocal arrangements. Towards the end of the record, the minimal, lo-if Dr Mensa lightly handles the heavy subject of healthcare in a rural African villages.
But Wahala Wahala is by no means gloomy. The flows of emcee Franz Von pop up again and again with an injection of optimism. The rhythms repeatedly call out for dancing. The dubby Wonderful Life, located towards the end of the record, affirms the sentiments of gratitude and resilience. And the album’s title track, with its playful highlife guitar and infectious rhythms, captures the spirit unmistakably.
The real wonder of K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade is their ability to deeply fuse African music with diverse contemporary genres, creating something that is genuinely fresh, yet carries a universal resonance. A project like this could so easily become a mish-mash – what we have instead is a tremendous synergy. Get your ears around it today.
Wahala Wahala was produced by Jack Davis, and recorded by Tim Thomas at ATA Leeds. It’s out now on Heavenly Sweetness Records.
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