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Avg 2.48 / 5
Total of 685 votes
Last update: 05/25/17 17:21:02
Account: Artist Quota
Location: AFRICA: Ethiopia
Signed up: 22 Jun 2010 12:22 AM
About "the 251"
In the tradition of hip-hop artists who use their local telephone area code on their albums, K has used the international pre-fix for Ethiopia as the title for this - The 251 - his fourth entirely self-produced and arranged solo album on which K also plays all the instruments apart from horns, drums and percussion.
Although Kenny Allen has recorded over 100 original compositions before coming to this album, it has a vitality and freshness that in no small measure arises from the fact of his relocation from the Diaspora to Africa. The 251 is a musical embodiment of Kenny Allen’s life in Ethiopia - his first experience of Africa. Infused with melodies drawn from his research into Ethiopian music The 251 is also an expression of Kenny Allen’s new found experiences of humility, simplicity and patience. Such themes can be found in Don’t’ Pass Them By - K’s imploration not to ignore the less fortunate of Ethiopia. Don’t Pass Them By and Life Lights are Kenny Allen’s expression of concern and love for the people of Africa.
Considering his expression of love for that special person, this theme is taken up by no less than four of the ten songs on The 251, namely the funky This Love Affair, the rollicking All This Time, the self-explanatory Cool Easy and Free and the catchy two-step homage to Ethiopian femininity Abyssinian Girl. The enduring message of desire in these songs is expressed in the tension between Kenny Allen’s giving of himself and longing for that ever-so-near but tantalizingly elusive reciprocation from Miss Right. And when seemingly out of his reach, his elusive Abyssinian Girl becomes Ethiopia Watch Over Me the mother in Africa that Kenny Allen once thought he would have to leave for good.
Of the remaining three songs on The 251, Tensions is an outstanding example of far-sighted social commentary over a simultaneously melancholic and uplifting melody of guitars and congas. Playing congas on Tensions is Kofi Ababio, K’s friend and erstwhile collaborator, his musical ‘Asvisor’ who also plays bongos on Shakerdown, a lively dance-floor filler whose vocal refrain conjures many associations, not least of which is some shapely, shaking babe. Kofi co-wrote Shakerdown with Kenny Allen and is further featured on cowbell on a modern version of well-known Ethiopian musician Mahmood Ahmed’s 1970’s Belomi Benna played here as Belomi Benna: The Funky Gurage. This song with an arrangement both modern and true to the original is an exceptionally good indicator of Kenny Allen’s grasp of African music which were he to extend into his own writing in African languages will undoubtedly bring forth very exciting material indeed. (Damali Bah)
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