It first emerged in the late 1970s when a group of musicians began to experiment with different ways of integrating elements from their native Edo culture and fusing them with new sound effects coming from West Africa ́s night-clubs. Unlike the rather polished 1980 ́s Nigerian disco productions coming out of the international metropolis of Lagos Edo Funk was raw and reduced to its bare minimum.
Someone was needed to channel this energy into a distinctive sound and Sir Victor Uwaifo appeared like a mad professor with his Joromi studio. Uwaifo took the skeletal structure of Edo music and relentless began fusing them with synthesizers, electric guitars and 80 ́s effect racks which resulted in some of the most outstanding Edo recordings ever made. An explosive spiced up brew with an odd psychedelic note dubbed “Edo Funk”.
That’s the sound you’ll be discovering in the first volume of the Edo Funk Explosion series which focusses on the genre’s greatest originators; Osayomore Joseph, Akaba Man, and Sir Victor Uwaifo:
Osayomore Joseph was one of the first musicians to bring the sound of the flute into the horn-dominated world of highlife, and his skills as a performer made him a fixture on the Lagos scene. When he returned to settle in Benin City in the mid 1970s – at the invitation of the royal family – he devoted himself to the modernisation and electrification of Edo music, using funk and Afro-beat as the building blocks for songs that weren’t afraid to call out government corruption or confront the dark legacy of Nigeria’s colonial past.
Akaba Man was the philosopher king of Edo funk. Less overtly political than Osayomore Joseph and less psychedelic than Victor Uwaifo, he found the perfect medium for his message in the trance-like grooves of Edo funk. With pulsating rhythms awash in cosmic synth-fields and lyrics that express a deep personal vision, he found great success at the dawn of the 1980s as one of Benin City’s most persuasive ambassadors of funky highlife.
Victor Uwaifo was already a star in Nigeria when he built the legendary Joromi studios in his hometown of Benin City in 1978. Using his unique guitar style as the mediating force between West-African highlife and the traditional rhythms and melodies of Edo music, he had scored several hits in the early seventies, but once he had his own sixteen-track facility he was able to pursue his obsession with the synesthetic possibilities of pure sound, adding squelchy synths, swirling organs and studio effects to hypnotic basslines and raw grooves. Between his own records and his production for other musicians, he quickly established himself as the godfather of Edo funk.
What unites these diverse musicians is their ability to strip funk down to its primal essence and use it as the foundation for their own excursions inward to the heart of Edo culture and outward to the furthest limits of sonic alchemy. The twelve tracks on Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 pulse with raw inspiration, mixing highlife horns, driving rhythms, day-glo keyboards and tripped-out guitars into a funk experience unlike any other.