Tony Allen: There Is No End (Blue Note) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tony Allen

There Is No End

Blue Note

Apr 28, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Had legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen spent the last years of his life cementing his legacy as an architect of Afrobeat, one would have been hard put to blame him. Surely he could have made a couple more great records in that mold, his spidery mastery over the kit still a thing to behold well into his 70s.

This wasn’t Allen’s M.O., though, even if his prior Blue Note album The Source hemmed closer to that format (albeit with an extra sprinkle of hard bop in the recipe). Released exactly a year after his death, There Is No End goes in a completely different direction, with Allen holding down the beat for an album of soulful, inventive hip-hop.

Some great young turks were roped in to spit over Allen’s beats, too. Sampa The Great brings her icy cool to “Stumbling Down”; meanwhile, ZeloperZ explodes over “Coonta Kinte” like a panic attack. Koreatown Oddity has some of the album’s best one-liners on “Rich Black” (example: “It’s all by design, if you understand percentage/like CMYK, Rich Black makes a difference”). On “Mau Mau,” Nah Eeto rides over one of the album’s best grooves, conjuring something like The Neptunes (ca. 2002) trying to cram Afrobeat grooves into their summer-bop framework.

It’s hard not to want a little more of what made Allen famous on a posthumous record, but that’s probably wrongheaded. True, Allen’s role in giving the world Afrobeat is an unassailable contribution to world culture at large, but his true place in music was that of a restless innovator. In that regard, There Is No End is a fitting tribute to a brilliant musician who was never content to linger too long on the same old beat. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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