Oct 5, 2011
Osayomore Joseph & The Ulele Power Sound - Waka Waka (download)
Joseph Osayomore comes from the Edo State, a region in Nigeria between the Yoruba land and the Niger delta which we have already encountered thanks to Paul Ede and Victor Uwaifo, where during the past centuries the glorious Benin Empire developed. He was born at the end of the forties in a village not far from Benin City. When he was very young he decided to follow an artistic path which led him, during the seventies, to become one of the biggest stars of his land.
Joseph Osayomore is someone who fed the ethnic proudness of the Bini and those people can be proud of this. But outside Nigeria nobody knows much about him, this is also to be considered the normal condition for the majority of the African art and culture. Osayomore appears to be one of those who has all the characteristics to stimulate curiosity within a more vast public.
Strongly tied to his own tradition and also proud of this, Joseph Osayomore has always avoided following ethnical and cultural ideals; those of the European colonizers, as opposed to many Nigerian musicians, he never showed any interest in the Christian religion nor Muslim religion. Osayomore is a follower of the Benin pantheon spirits, a true "animist" and also the name of his group - the Ulele Power Sound - refers to his religious convictions. In the tradition of his village, the Ulele power comes from the spirits of who serves them and respects them.
Thanks to his courage to speak openly against injustice and the false Nigerian democracy, Joseph Osayomore is considered a sort of successor of Fela Kuti. Unfortunately the message risks being confined in the area of his own ethnic group due to the Edo language utilized by him in his songs. It is a fact that he was brought to court and imprisoned more than once - also during the Obasnjo government, historical enemy of Fela - because of the iconoclasm of his lyrics and for to conceited critics to the local and national authorities, starting from the proud and the respect for his ancestors culture. It is perhaps due to this that the musical scene is inundated with the various chief, commander, prince and king that Joseph Osayomore chose the title of ambassador.
The icon of the cheeky and irreverent musician who uses his own art as a scene and pretext to laugh about and to criticize the authorities - to say the truth without any fear, says the tradition - is not alien to the cultural Yoruba and Bini context within which both Fela and Osayomore move.
"Osayomore Joseph is the best thing ever released from the Bini land. Thanks to him I am sure we will gain freedom". "OJ always tells the truth. Amongst the over 60 records released one of his most famous songs is Army of Freedom. Another one is Efewedo, richness I say goodbye to you, a song against envy for wealth and for respect earned honestly. In Efewedo and in many songs Osayomre thanks his mother, an important woman who always supported him in public also in front of the authorities' persecutions or in front of the mean gossips about his immorality - mostly sexual - which accompanied him for years. Also this is a trace that associates him to Fela.
Musically speaking Osayomore is certainly less eclectic than Victor Uwaifo also if the course of his long carrier has gone through with much originality, some of the most popular musical genres in the country, amongst which highlife and afro beat. The main characteristic of his Bini-sound is the power of groove. The Ulelele Power Sound are made up of drums, congas, bass, two guitars, winds and voices, all the instruments are used for rhythm. The result is a powerful plaid of squeaky harmonies, over which what predominates is the declaimed singing of Osayomore accompanied by an obsessive reply from the chorus.
His music is a tremendous invitation to dance. With its multiple repartitions of traditional Bini rhythms, representing the vertebral column of the songs, an exciting news with African notes nuances and Caribbean, to which it will be quite difficult to resist moving.
Originally published at the amazing Italian page tpafrica
01 Waka Waka
02 Iro Ghama
04 Okpani Ya