Review: Nneka, Wanlov the Kubulor, Afrikan Boy & DJ Edu at Cargo 23rd July

This has to be a partial review because I was on Lagos time, got there really late, and missed Afrikan Boys' set.

I'd heard so much about Nneka and seen videos online but wasn't quite prepared for what I saw. I was having a chat with Ty outside and he was over the moon, because this is what he'd been hinting at through his music for a very long time - that's it's ok to be African - people will get it. He said the way Nneka came out it on stage was as though the boss had just arrived, and she gave a "masterclass". I'd have to agree, Nneka is a huge star in the making and I'm excited to have seen her in a small venue before what is definitely about to come - my first thought was how much she made me think of the young Tracy Chapman.

I didn't realise that Nneka is from the town I used to live in, Warri (Delta State) Nigeria, where my fathers family is from. It is an oil producing town with some of the most extreme examples of rich and poor you'll ever see in the world, civil unrest (you may have heard about the kidnappings and tribal conflict), but some of the most amazing people I've ever met. The villages are beautiful (though of course with their own problems), along the banks of the river Niger, but the town is chaotic and life is a struggle for a lot of the people who don't have the luxury of living inside the Shell or Chevron estates for ex-pats. I left in September 1995 just before the government hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa (in November) & Nigeria was kicked out of the Commonwealth. Nneka left when she was 19 and from her lyrics you get the feeling she is an extremely socially and politically aware person -

“I get inspired when I take a severe look at the things going on in our world today; especially in my country. How people live, suffer and endure pain, politics and religion, when I see all that man has evoked and created out of self-centeredness and devotion to material things”.

I'd been waiting to see Wanlov the Kubolor for a while, (Kubulor means rascal), he's been working with my friend Mensa and I'd heard Kokonsa on DJ Edu's radio show. I'd also heard he doesn't wear underwear (I'm pretty sure that's true, don't ask, apparently his answer is "come to the side") or shoes, just a cloth around his waist. I wasn't disappointed, he is the best of Africa - proud, hilarious, spiritual, cheeky, warm, beautiful, exciting, and very very late.

I was gutted to miss Afrikan Boy, although Kubulor pulled him up on stage to freestyle with himself & Mensa (as a group Kubulor and Mensa are "The Fucking Boys") so the chorus became "It's The Fucking Boys and Afrikan Boy!". Last time I saw Afrikan Boy he was just brilliant, so in your face but with the smile of a cheeky overgrown little boy so you feel like a kid too and have to jump up and down & join in...

Dare I say it - I think Africa is about to really take over...