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Ben Okri & Skepta pay tribute to Tony Allen on "Cosmosis"

In “Cosmosis,” the Nigerian poet and British grime artist combine for the first track on the new posthumous album by the afrobeat legend.

Recorded in London, in March 2020, in the famous Studio 13, “Cosmosis” was produced by Tony Allen, Damon Albarn and Remi Kabaka, the drummer in Gorillaz. Allen passed away in April 2020, and his enduring legacy is celebrated by artists far and wide, their collective hymn being: “I play your music, you play mine. Music never ends.

Skepta originally collaborated with both Allen and Damon Albarn on the track “How Far,”. The latter two led the Africa Express collective since its inception in 2009, and remain forever linked through joint musical projects, especially The Good, The Bad and The Queen (TGTBTQ) who released Rocket Juice & The Moon in 2012 as well as the track “Go Back” in 2014.

Both dealing with politicized subject material, Skepta and Ben Okri are well-placed to contribute to Allen’s staggering discography, particularly Okri, a Nigerian poet and novelist who won the Booker Prize for The Hunger Road back in 1991. Skepta is also of Nigerian heritage and both pay tribute to a veritable god of Lagos cultural history. Allen was the former drummer of Africa 70 alongside Fela Kuti, who said of him: “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.” These two legends toured the United States during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, which had served to increase the political edge to their music. Like a spiritual master, Tony Allen appears at the very beginning of the video for “Cosmosis,” almost haloed. Skepta delivers a message  encouraging us to go beyond the labels imposed on us.

Listen to “Cosmosis” in our Songs of the Week playlist on Spotify and Deezer.