Song: MAW Expensive
Band: Masters At Work
If this nearly twelve minute monster groove opus doesn’t get your blood moving, nothing will. "Little" Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, the NYC-based mixmaster/producer duo behind Masters At Work, dropped this 1999 single as a spirited tribute to Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, who died in '97. MAW heavily samples Kuti’s 1975 muscular, fiercely populist wake-up anthem Expensive Shit (and not without some triumphant humour and righteous intervention).
The propulsive power of the resultant vehicle just goes for miles. It’s got terrific horns snapping you to attention, sweetly fluid flutes weaving a sinuous dance, percussive notes galore - and, in time, it has Wunmi spitting out a rapid-fire vocal patter that astounds for its energetic, committed delivery. Wunmi began her career as a London-born dancer for Soul II Soul and moved on into documentary (on Fela, no less) and fashion design; she’s also a devoted singer/songwriter melding Afrobeat with house, soul, broken beat, jazz and other genres; she’s a musical alchemist of the first order. Fela through MAW lays down the groove and Wunmi injects impassioned inspiration. This is about protest, liberation and self-empowerment; its effervescent positivity is impossible to ignore.