Lafayette Afro Rock Band
|Lafayette Afro Rock Band|
Lafayette Afro Rock Band in 1978
|Also known as||Bobby Boy Congress
Crispy and Co.
Krispie and Co.
Wall of Steel
|Genres||Funk rock, jazz, disco|
|Associated acts||Mal Waldron
Bobby Boyd (vocals)
Lafayette Afro Rock Band was a French funk rock band formed in Roosevelt, Long Island, New York in 1970. Though almost unknown in their native United States, they are now universally celebrated as one of the standout funk bands of the 1970s and admired for their use of break beats.
Upon their relocation to Paris, the local music scene influenced the group's work, and they adopted the name Lafayette Afro Rock Band after releasing their debut LP. The band's next two LPs, Soul Makossa and Malik, respectively included the songs "Hihache"and "Darkest Light," which would be sampled in numerous culturally significant hip-hop compositions. Following collaborations with Mal Waldron and Sunnyland Slim, the band's popularity waned, leading to their breakup in 1978.
The Lafayette Afro Rock Band was formed as the Bobby Boyd Congress in 1970, in homage to their original vocalist Bobby Boyd. Upon deciding that the funk scene in the United States was too saturated for them to viably compete in, they relocated to France in 1971; with Bobby Boyd splitting from the group to pursue a musical career in America, they renamed themselves Ice. After regular performances in Paris' Barbès district—an area made up primarily of North African immigrants—they caught the eye of producer Pierre Jaubert and became the house session band at his Parisound studio. The influence of their surroundings led Ice to increasingly weave African rhyme schemes, textures, and beat tendencies in their original funk style, and as such they changed their name to Lafayette Afro Rock Band following the 1972 release of the poorly produced Each Man Makes His Own Destiny.
In 1974, Lafayette Afro Rock band replaced guitarist Larry Jones with Michael McEwan and released Soul Makossa (released in the U.S. as Movin' and Groovin'). The title track was a cover version of Manu Dibango's international hit, "Soul Makossa." Despite the LP failing to chart, it made sufficient impact that its standout song, the oft-covered "Hihache", was sampled regularly for over 20 years by artists as diverse as Janet Jackson, Biz Markie, LL Cool J, De La Soul, Digital Underground, Naughty by Nature, and the Wu-Tang Clan. Lafayette Afro Rock Band's follow-up effort, the 1975 LP Malik, prominently featured the Univox Super-Fuzz and liberal usage of the vocoder. It met equal enduring success, with a modified horn and saxophone sample of "Darkest Light" being featured prominently in Public Enemy's "Show 'Em Whatcha Got". After Public Enemy's usage of the song was highly praised, samples of "Darkest Light" backed numerous culturally significant songs, including "Back to the Hotel", the multi-platinum 1992 single "Rump Shaker" by new jack group Wreckx-n-Effect and rapper Jay-Z's 2006 single "Show Me What You Got".
Mal Waldron, an American jazz and world music composer who came to fame after performing as Billie Holiday's accompanist until her death, collaborated with the Lafayette Afro Rock Band in 1975, employing them to back him on his unreleased Candy Girl album. Shortly later, legendary blues pianist Sunnyland Slim sought out the band's services, and recorded the collaboration album Depression Blues. The group subsequently reverted to the "Ice" moniker, releasing material concurrently on an "Various Artists" formatted 1975 released LP "Tonight at the Discotheque" under the art-names "Captain Dax", "Les Atlantes" and "Crispy and Co." (spelled in French and German speaking countries as "Krispie & Company"). As the latter they even scored two UK charts hits, "Brazil" in 1975 made No. 26, while "Get it together" made No. 21 in 1976. After success faded in Europe the band proofed its luck in Japan.
After scoring with the mildly successful single "Dr. Beezar, Soul Frankenstein", they released Afro Agban and Funky Flavored to little fanfare before returning to America and permanently disbanding. In 1978, French record label Superclasse released ten uninspiring, previously unreleased recordings, followed by a 1999 Best of compilation which was more warmly received.
Lafayette Afro Rock Band toiled in obscurity during their years of activity, but have now become of interest to Western critics and music historians due to their ubiquitous break beats. Due to their unpopularity when compared to contemporary acts such as Funkadelic, few copies of their studio LPs have survived; this has led to, with the exceptions of "Hihache" and "Darkest Light", the attention of critics and historians being drawn to the band's three greatest hits albums: Afon: Ten Unreleased Afro Funk Recordings, Darkest Light: The Best of and The Ultimate Collection. Music historian Dave Thompson unfavorably reviewed Afon, but praised Darkest Light, singling out "Soul Frankenstein," "The Gap," "Conga," "Malik," "Soul Makossa," "Scorpion Flower," "Nicky" and "Darkest Light" as the "high points" of the "ultimate point of entry" for the band. British music newspaper Melody Maker and Allmusic critic Jason Ankeny have also both favorably reviewed Darkest Light, with Ankeny stating that it is "one of the great documents of classic funk." The Ultimate Collection received particular acclaim from Allmusic writer Jason Birchmeier, who asserted that it was "a gem" that "you can't go wrong with."
Studio albums 
- Each Man Makes His Own Destiny (1972, as Ice)
- Soul Makossa (1973)
- Voodounon EP (1974)
- Malik (1975) - America Records
- Tonight at the Discotheque (1975, various artists)
- Funky Flavored (1976, as Crispy and Co.)
- Frisco Disco (1976, as Ice)
- Afro Agban (1977, as Ice)
- Oglenon / Azeta (1974)
- Brazil / Love can (1975, as Crispy & Co., or Krispie & Compagny)
- A.I.E. (A Mwana) / Super Queen (1975, as Ice)
- Get It Together / Down in St. Tropez (1975, as Crispy & Co., or Krispie & Compagny)
- Sunara / Get It Together (1976, same)
- Dr. Beezar, Soul Frankenstein (1976, as Captain Dax)
- Afon: Ten Unreleased Afro Funk Recordings (1978)
- Darkest Light: The Best of (1999)
- The Ultimate Collection (2001)
Selected samples 
|"Darkest Light" (1975)||
- Birchmeier, Jason (2003). In Bogdanov, Vladimir et al. All Music Guide to Soul. Backbeat Books. p. 406. ISBN 0-87930-744-7.
- Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-87930-629-7.
- Crazy Horse, Kandia (2004). Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock'n'roll. Macmillan. p. 209. ISBN 1-4039-6243-X.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Lafayette Afro Rock Band: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- Wang, Oliver (2003). Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide. ECW Press. p. 138. ISBN 1-55022-561-8.
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (October 30, 2006). "Top Down; Pop Notes". The New Yorker 82 (35): 22.
- "N2Deep's Back to the Hotel sample of Lafayette Afro Rock Band's Darkest light".
- Breihan, Tom (May 3, 2007). "On the Continuing Resonance of "Rump Shaker"". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- Dolan, Casey (October 21, 2006). "Downloads". Los Angeles Times. pp. E8.
- Clarke, Donald (2002). Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon. Da Capo Press. pp. 403–404. ISBN 0-306-81136-7.
- Charters, Samuel Barclay (1977). The Legacy of the Blues: Art and Lives of Twelve Great Bluesmen. Da Capo Press. pp. 133–144. ISBN 0-306-80054-3.
- Booth, Daniel (October 2, 1999). "Darkest Light: The Best of the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band". Melody Maker 76 (39). p. 39.
- Ankeny, Jason (2008). In Woodstra, Chris et al. Old School Rap and Hip-Hop. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-87930-916-4.
- The songs by Ice, Captain Dax, Crispy & Co. or Krispie & Co., Les Atlantes, Wall of Steel are by the Lafayette Afro Rock Band.
- Garrity, Brian (November 25, 2006). "Same Sample, Different Ditty". Billboard 118 (47): 9.
- Endelman, Michael (December 1, 2006). "Executive Suite". Entertainment Weekly (909): 81.