World-renowned drummer Tony Allen has had a hell of a career. Originally one the ambassadors for afrobeat, Allen was the musical director for Fela Kuti’s groundbreaking group Africa ’70, appearing on almost all of the legendary singer’s equally legendary albums. Never afraid to experiment or forge his own path, Allen broke from Kuti by 1980 and began infusing different styles like dub, jazz, and reggae into the established afrobeat sound, creating his own genre, afro-funk. By the time the new millennium came around, Allen was a towering figure in music, but still kept busy by joining the Damon Albarn-led supergroup The Good, The Bad, and The Queen for two albums.
Sadly, Allen passed away almost exactly a year ago. He took with him a discography that easily put him in the discussion for the greatest drummers of all time. Allen stood out by always moving forward and keeping his work habits in constant motion. He was working on an album, There Is No End, at the time of his death. Now, we’re starting to hear those tracks.
Earlier this year, the Albarn-produced song ‘Cosmosis’ was released as the album’s first single. Now, we’re getting a second one. ‘Stumbling Down’ features Zambian rapper Sampa the Great dropping hooks all around Allen’s divine power of percussion, and the production leans into both bass-heavy dub and organic drum sampling alternative hip-hop.
Allen’s eye for talent was well-known, and it appears that There Is No End will feature some of the most talented names in modern music, from Danny Brown to Jeremiah Jae to the aforementioned Sampa the Great. Speaking fondly of Allen’s influence, Sampa said: “Uncle Tony was involved in changing the way African Music was heard and felt, and he has constantly inspired me to learn and to expand my music.”
Listen to ‘Stumbling Down’ below. There Is No End is set for an April 30th release to commemorate one year of Allen’s passing.