No Discrimination - 1980
By 1980 Tony Allen had not only vacated the role he'd held as Fela Kuti's band leader and drummer for well over a decade, but had begun taking afrobeat off in his own unique direction. Much like Allen's previous two solo LPs, 1975's Jealousy and '77's Progress, the results aren't completely removed from what Fela was up to around the same time, but the gap between the two masters was undoubtedly widened with No Discrimination. Comprised of many members of Fela's Africa 70, Allen's Afro Messengers forged ahead with a deconstructed, almost dub-like approach to afrobeat paired with a subtle underpinning of greasy synths and gentle polyrhythms - a genre Allen himself would appropriately term afrofunk. As the decade wore on, Allen began incorporating period electronics, rap and R&B into the mix, but No Discrimination captures the brief moment when his music was still firmly rooted in West African traditions, but his desire of a more expansive palette first started to emerge. There's not a tune under 8 minutes here, and while all four are outstanding, the delicately trippy "Ariya" is my personal favorite. The Evolver label re-released this album paired with 1979's No Accomodation for Lagos a few years back, so pick that one up if No Discrimination piques your interest.