Blue Note Issues Posthumous Hip-Hop/R&B Infused Tony Allen LP ‘There Is No End’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

There Is No End, the posthumous Blue Note release from legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen does not at all resemble the drummer’s 2020 World Circuit Rejoice with Hugh Maskela as it’s a various artists album with a different guest featured on 12 of the 14 tracks, with Allen’s Afrobeats the common denominator. The album release coincides with the one-year anniversary of Allen’s death.  With the beats recorded in 2019, prior to his death, the project is succinctly described by Allen with these words – “I want to take care of youngsters; they have messages and I want to bring them on my beat. The idea is to transmit to the young generation, to mix different universes – the hip hop world to the Afrobeat world.” 

The album was produced by Tony Allen, Vincent Taeger, and Vincent Taurelle. The raps and spoken words were added later featuring guest rappers and singers including Sampa The Great, Danny Brown, Lava La Rue, and more. That process has producer Taeger commenting that although Allen was not present physically, his spirit guided the work. In thinking back on the process of finalizing There Is No End without Tony physically present to guide them, Taeger renowned Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri, like everyone else involved, had a very similar experience, declaring in awe that Allen “ could have lived another 150 years and kept creating new worlds.” 

Okri is involved in the first released single, “Cosmosis” which came together just as Tony, Damon Albarn and Nigerian-British rapper Skepta had finished tracking their collaboration, “How Far?” for the Gorillaz 2020 album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. Ben Okri wrote his lyrics as a tribute to Tony, to ask “How do you absorb a cosmos or integrate a cosmos, enrich a world, infiltrate in the highest possible way and change the mentalverse, the spiritverse; it’s by cosmosis.”  Other selections come from Zambian-born, Australia-based rapper Sampa the Great (“Stumbling Down”), Lord Ja-Monte Ogbon from Charlotte, NC;  Tsunami from south-central Los Angeles (“Tres Magnifique”), Nairobian Nah Eeto (“Mau Mau”), Detroit’s Zelooperz (“Coonta Kinte”) and Danny Brown (“Deer in Headlights”), Los Angeles’ Koreatown Oddity (‘Rich Black”), Chicago’s Jeremiah Jae (‘Gang On Holiday”), D.C-Baltimore area’s Nate Bone (“hurt Your Soul”), and the alt-rap Seattle-based project Marlowe (“My Own”).

The album takes its title from these words of Allen’s “I play yours, you play mine. The music never ends.” Allen’s mission, realized through this effort was to give this new generation of rappers a voice in a time of global social justice consciousness where music has an important role, not just as a means of protest in the manner of Fela’s violently political songs, but also as a healing force in this divided global culture. 

 

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