Legend has it that Fuji -- the Arab-music-inflected sounds of Nigeria's dance clubs -- was named for Japan's Mount Fujiyama not because of any spiritual association with Japan, but simply for the mysterious grandeur and braggadocio that Fuji music's founders saw in photos of the mountain. Which fits perfectly with the swaggering sound of Fuji kingpin Adewale Ayuba's new project, Bantu -- a collaboration with "NiGerman" producer Ade Bantu. The pair has obviously immersed itself in reggae and Afropean hip-hop culture enough to absorb its bragging rights, while still retaining the dramatic percussion of Afro-beat and Fuji. And the end result of all that fusion is a furious album that sounds as much like a soundclash in Brooklyn or Paris as its subtitle: "Soundclash in Lagos."
As much as for its seamless blend of Yoruba hand drumming and trunk-rattling digital beats, or of sampled handclaps and Fela-style horn sections, Fuji Satisfaction is exciting for its different take on the themes Bantu explores in its lyrics. Like "Where Di Water, Where Di Lighter," attacking both Jamaican dancehall artists for homophobia and Western critics for their rush to interpret any statement as violent or prejudiced. Or "How Real (Can a Real, Real Be)" -- a salvo directed at U.S. hip hop for its musical and lyrical stagnation.
Bantu's Satisfaction takes Fuji, the most popular form of home-grown sounds in Nigeria for the past decade, to a new level -- one from which it can perhaps more readily spread to the streets of Europe and America with its infectious dancehall- and hip-hop-inspired beats. The fact that it's a record of such musical depth, as well as such modern-minded diasporic intent, is just gravy.