ALBUM REVIEW: VILLY & THE XTREME VOLUMES – HUMANIMALS

Villy & The Xtreme Band air out their frustrations about leadership and injustice in Africa in a defiant yet enchanting manner over amazing grooves on their latest EP ‘Humanimals’

 

 

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Villy & The Xtreme Volumes new EP is short and heavy in content. Humanimals is a 6 track EP which runs for 32 minutes. The heaviness of the album lies first with the title Humanimals-a play on the words ‘human’ and ‘animals’-and its themes-unapologetically political.

On Humanimals, the Nigerian artiste Villy present to the listener heavy thumping afrobeats and undisputable truths about the (in) actions of ‘politicians who aren’t leaders’ in a brazenly loud manner; something akin to what his mentor, the legendary afrobeat king, Fela Kuti did many years ago. This trait of consciousness has been pervasive in almost the songs put out by Villy & The Xtreme Volumes.

 

The sounds on Humanimals is very diverse. It incorporates the typical afrobeat rhythms of southern West Africa, kora driven Sahelian sounds of northern West Africa and a bit of soul/blues from southern parts of America.

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Themes about politics, religion and blackness fill Humanimals, as typified on the mellow, tambourine and string driven opener Which Way, where Villy ponders on the path Africa is travelling whiles pointing out some of the shackles impeding progress: you commit sin if you think outside the box/ and if you want to be free, you must go to church/ still the children are dying, the mothers are crying’ despite the presence of relief agencies such as UNICEF and WHO.

 

The honesty and sincerity shared on the EP screams on songs like Alarm-which features Ghanaian rapper Wanlov. He tackles the trepidation and frustrations of the ordinary man when dawn breaks (we dey use basket to fetch water/ and we dey wait for the time when the basket go overflow/we waiting patiently in stupidity my brother) over spirit stirring Sahelian grooves.

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With the issue of immigrations receiving global attention and the fear that most Africans who even opt for the right procedure to get to Europe won’t return, Villy sings ‘oyibo no wan give me visa, them say Villy go runaway… run to Italy from Italy enter Malaysia on this palmwine highlife tinged Run Away. Ghanaian guitarist Kyekyeku’s riffs on this song is beautifully laid.

Villy continues his political expositions on WMM (Where My Money). The song chides Africans who refuse to pay their debt, this time narrowing on African politicians or governments and their corruptible ways-stealing the peoples’ money. Villy defines leadership for African presidents ‘as leaders you be servant to the people, you no be our kings’. Similar to Fela, Villy calls out some African presidents and their cohorts reputed for being corrupt. WMM could pass as a criticism of African states who continuously owe European governments.

On Humanimals-the album title- Villy asks ‘what have we become? Beasts under the sun/ where did we go run?/where do we belong’? Humanimals exposes the hypocrisy, inequality, racism, classism and corruption that is pervasive and often rubbed in the face of ordinary citizens; throwing in the reminder: we’ve been down for too long we must go against this gravity’. The cadence of the song rises from the soft piano chords at the beginning to a more intense, fast paced one midway before dropping back into ballad mode.

No Way, with its up-tempo beat outlines the lingering issues of today’s world-GMOs, racism, Ebola, HIV, cancer, slavery, and religion. It is a defiant song against injustices including ignorance concluding with these words ‘If you are waiting for our revolution, you are dulling yourself’

Humanimals is Villy & The Xtreme Volumes airing their frustrations about the state of African politics- the bad governance, lack of development, corruption and neo-colonialism-in a fearless way. And one need not be told the themes on the EP since the artwork-a pig with faces of presidents in its bell- succinctly reflect the meaning of Humanimals.

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