Friday, 13 May 2011

Music: The Yaaba Funk Experience!

 "Heavy Afro grooves with crisp, tight drumming, intricate cross rhythms, wah wah guitar, punchy horns and very effective vocal chants were the order of the day.... This was a well honed performance from this Hi Life Afro beat funk band entrenched in the thick of it and implacable.... Brixton has another “Yaaba Funk are a Hi-Life/Afro-Funk explosion. A product of Brixton and influenced by 1970’S Ghanaian hi-life, funky sounds of James Brown and UK sounds like Roots Manuva and The Specials. A floor-filling extravaganza combining the tightest rhythm section this side of Accra, fat analogue basslines, blazing horns, sparkling African and gritty rock guitars.” Barbican blurb for “Still Black, Still Proud”, an African Tribute to James Brown. 2008. The core members of Yaaba Funk met on the London African drum and dance scene in the 1990s where together they learned from master musicians from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Brazil and South Africa. Many nights were spent jamming together at house parties where African drummers and dancers would mix and blend with the djs flinging tunes from anywhere and everywhere. The band was born in Brixton in 2006 . The name Yaaba Funk comes from an album called Yaba Funk Roots, the only album ever released outside of Africa by Captain Yaba, a musician from northern Ghana and exponent of the 2-string ‘guitar’ called the koliko. Though sadly no longer with us, Captain Yaba influenced the band’s Ghanaian lead vocalist and founder member, Richmond Kessie, with his mix of Ghanaian roots music and modern funk grooves. They have built up a loyal fan base across London with their exuberant live shows and count amongst their supporters industry luminaries such as the Shrine’s Rita Ray and Max Reinhardt, DJ Ritu (BBC Radio London), DJ Russ Jones (Future World Funk), Miles Cleret (Soundway), Erik Soul (Afrogroov/Wahala) and Koichi Sakai (Afrobeat Vibration/Jazz On the Road). Since forming Yaaba Funk have appeared at the Barbican as part of African musician's tribute to James Brown, Future World Funk, Afrogroov's Components, the main stage at Shambala Festival, Rise festival in Finsbury Park, Stokefest in Clissold Park, Bossaphonik in Oxford,Jibbering Sessions in Birmingham, underground venues in East London Passing Clouds and The Empowering Church(with Sofrito sound system), the Rest Is Noise (Brixton – with Sambalanco and Soul Jazz sound systems). The band has performed live on Radio London's 'A world in London' (hosted by Dj Ritu) and African Essence on Resonance FM (hosted by Debbie Golt). Band members Chief Commander Yaaba, Mr Brett and the Outlaw Clive Wales also DJ at their own nights and as guests at other Afro inspired nights around London - spinning Afrobeat, Mbalax, Cuban rumba, Brazilian grooves, broken beat,70s Nigerian funk, reggae and of course Hi-Life. Their much anticipated debut album 'Afrobeast' was released on 10th May and is distributed by Sterns Records and available from all good record stores and as downloads. Remixes from DJ D and Olatunde are also available on Hereandnow recordings. A multi-cultural south London band, with members from across the planet (Ghana, America, Martinique, Jamaica, Italy, Germany, and UK) long-term friends and musical allies, YAABA FUNK have created a punky Afro roots music for the 21st Century.Brixton has another top flight band added to it’s rostrum..... Go see this band live! I guarantee you’ll find it hard to keep your feet still!" Emrys Baird. Blues and Soul magazine."

This is long overdue! Richmond Kessie’s band, ‘Yaaba Funk’ is hot and its time for Ghana Rising to celebrate them! I love the eclectic yummy, funky, punky, rocky, Afro-beat-y mix of the Yaaba Funk sound. For more info or to book the band visit: or email:

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