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At the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX on May 19, 2005.
At the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX on May 19, 2005.
Background information
Also known asAntibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
OriginUnited States
GenresAfrobeat, funk, jazz
Years active1998–present
LabelsNinja Tune, ANTI-, Ropeadope Records, Exactamundo, Daptone, Fania, Verve
MembersMartín Perna
Marcos García
Jordan McLean
Marcus Farrar
Reinaldo Dejesus
Jake Pinto
Justin Kimmel
Timothy J Allen
Kevin Raczka
Michael Pallas
Drew Vandewinckel
Andrew McGovern
Past memberssee below

Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is an American, Brooklyn-based afrobeat band founded in 1998 by Martín Perna. Initially inspired by Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive Orchestra, the music generally follows the musical architecture and language of afrobeat and incorporates elements of jazz, funk, dub, improvised music, and traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa.


As "Conjunto Antibalas", the group first performed on May 26, 1998, at St. Nick's Pub in Harlem at a poetry night organized by visual artist Xaviera Simmons. Over the next few months, the group solidified with a core of eleven band members and expanded their repertoire of original songs. For the first year of the group's existence, they performed exclusively at non-commercial venues such as block parties, lofts, and public parks, before securing a Friday-night residency at the now-defunct NoMoore in August 1999. Called Africalia!, the residency lasted from August 1999 till April 2001, when the club was shut down by fire officials during the Giuliani administration's crackdown on nightclubs and cabarets.[1] Along with Perna, guitarist and producer/engineer Gabriel Roth wrote several of the earlier tunes and oversaw recording and most of the production of the first three records.

Over the next few years, the band's presence grew; by summer 2000 Antibalas had released their first album, Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1, and had toured twice in England, while continuing to play at venues throughout New York City. Recording with the group in the early days was Cameroonian drummer Jojo Kuo, who can be heard on the studio recordings of "Uprising" and "Machete".

By early 2002, the horn-driven outfit had released their second album, Talkatif, and continued to tour throughout the United States and Europe. In summer 2004, they released their third studio album, Who is This America? on Ropeadope Records. Of the album, Pitchfork writes, "Indeed, where Antibalas' previous works were abridged for accessibility, here they've clearly become more comfortable with their staying power, and more confident with their voice."[2]

The group returned to the studio in the summer of 2005 to work with producer John McEntire in Chicago. Antibalas's album Security, produced by McEntire and released on the ANTI- label in 2007, was "a clear turning point for the band," and Spin notes "they've practically become their own genre."[3]

Antibalas has performed in 35 countries, including Japan and Australia, and throughout New York City, from Carnegie Hall to Central Park Summerstage to the Rikers Island prison facility.

The group has received guest visits from several musicians from Fela Kuti's Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 bands, including Tony Allen (drums), Femi Kuti (alto sax), Tunde Williams (trumpet), Oghene Kologbo (guitar), Nicolas Addey (congas), Dele Sosimi (keyboards), Ola Jagun (drums/percussion), and Jojo Kuo (drums) as well as Seun Kuti.

In the summer of 2008, Antibalas was featured off-Broadway in Bill T. Jones's Fela!, a musical celebrating the life of Fela Kuti. Antibalas trombonist Aaron Johnson served as the show's musical director and was joined by several members of Antibalas. In the fall of 2009, Fela! opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, once again with members of Antibalas.[4]

In 2010, the band independently released their Rat Race EP, produced by Victor Axelrod, with original "Se Chifló" featuring Chico Mann as vocalist and an arrangement of Bob Marley's "Rat Race" sung by Amayo on vocals. "Rat Race" was included on the compilation World's Funkiest Covers in 2011.[5]

In 2011, the band reunited with producer and former Antibalas guitarist Gabriel Roth at Daptone Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to record their fifth full-length album, entitled Antibalas. The album was released on August 7, 2012, on the Daptone label.[6]

The band resumed a heavy touring schedule beginning in April 2012 with their debut tour in Brazil, performing in São Paulo and Recife, and kicked off a US tour at the Outsidelands Festival in San Francisco, followed by a tour of California. On August 24, 2012, Antibalas made their national television debut, performing their single "Dirty Money" on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On September 11, they resumed their US/Canada tour with 30 dates in the Midwest, East Coast, Southeast and Gulf Coast, including the Austin City Limits Festival. On October 4, they appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts.[7] The band toured in Europe in October and November 2012, followed by an Australian tour in March 2013 . In May of the same year Antibalas visited Mexico for first time, performing in Puebla "Festival 5 de Mayo" joined by original member Victor Axelrod on bass.

In 2014, the group, along with Daptone label mates Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, The Sugarman Three, and Saun & Starr performed as the Daptone Super Soul Revue, performing 13 dates in Europe in July and later four nights at the Apollo Theater with additional Daptone artists.

In 2015, the Antibalas horn section collaborated with The Dap-Kings horn section, Mark Ronson, and Bruno Mars to record "Uptown Funk" and other tracks from Ronson's 2015 album Uptown Special. They also performed "Uptown Funk" together on Saturday Night Live in November 2014.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

The group also performed a 29-show tour in collaboration with the group Zap Mama at performing arts centers across the US and Canada.[15][16]

In 2020, Antibalas released their seventh full-length studio album, entitled Fu Chronicles, on the Daptone label. Former vocalist Amayo told NPR's Morning Edition, "Since I was a kid, I was always studying martial arts and kung fu was very central [to] everything I did. So when I started playing music, I couldn't imagine not having kung fu as part of that training. But then, I wanted to now figure out a way to bring it all together. So this album was the first chapter in [which] kung fu meets Afrobeat."[17]

The band's worldwide tour in support of Fu Chronicles began in early 2020.[18] but was interrupted and cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. Fu Chronicles was nominated in the category of Best Global Music Album for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.[19]

In mid-2021 the band began a formal separation process with Amayo, which was publicly announced in November 2021 once settled.[20]

Immediately following Amayo's departure, the band resumed touring throughout North America, Mexico, Europe and North Africa, and in May 2023 completed a four-night, eight-show run at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, celebrating their 25th anniversary.[21][22]

Band members[edit]




  1. ^ Bojko, Tom (January 16, 2005). "Antibalas burn it down and build it back up". The Japan Times. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  2. ^ "Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra: Who Is This America?". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  3. ^ O'Connor, Rob (March 27, 2002). "Antibalas, 'Security' (Anti-)". Spin Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  4. ^ "Fela! Still on Broadway & going to London, the soundtrack & actual Fela CDS coming soon, Femi Kuti touring this summer". April 15, 2010.
  5. ^ Various - World's Funkiest Covers, 2011, retrieved July 14, 2023
  6. ^ Rohter, Larry (August 6, 2012). "Waiting in Brooklyn for the World to Catch Up". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  7. ^ "Antibalas: Tiny Desk Concert". Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Rogers, Ray (November 10, 2014). "Mark Ronson Says New Single With Bruno Mars 'Uptown Funk' Is a Milestone for Both of Them". Billboard. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  9. ^ RYZIK, MELENA (January 11, 2015). "Back to the Studio, With Hits in Hand: Mark Ronson's Fourth Solo Album, 'Uptown Special,' Is a Star Collaboration". The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  10. ^ Fusilli, Jim (January 12, 2015). "Big-Name Musicians Get Funky: Mark Ronson once again proves he has superb taste in funk and R&B on 'Uptown Special'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  11. ^ Johnston, Maura (January 9, 2015). "Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson head 'Uptown' to No. 1". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  12. ^ Schiff, Mark (November 10, 2014). "Mark Ronson shares funky new song with Bruno Mars, announces upcoming album". AXS. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  13. ^ Molanphy, Chris (January 13, 2015). "Why Is Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk!" No. 1?". Slate. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  14. ^ Byron, Tim (December 16, 2014). "Number Ones: Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars 'Uptown Funk'". The Vine. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  15. ^ "Martín Perna of Antibalas discusses the architecture of afrobeat music". Trial and Error Collective. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  16. ^ "Zap Mama And Antibalas". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  17. ^ "Antibalas' 'Fu Chronicles' Is A Martial Arts-Inspired Testament To Afrobeat". February 8, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  18. ^ "Antibalas Announces New Album 'Fu Chronicles' & Early-2020 Tour, Shares Single". November 19, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  19. ^ "2021 GRAMMYs: Complete Nominees List". November 24, 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  20. ^ "Antibalas Lead Singer Duke Amayo Leaves Band". Jambands. November 5, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  21. ^ "Antibalas Kick Off Blue Note Residency in New York City (A Gallery)". Relix Media. May 19, 2023. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  22. ^ "Antibalas Kick Off Blue Note Residency in New York City (A Gallery)". Relix Media. May 19, 2023. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  23. ^ "Review – Antibalas (self-titled)". August 7, 2012. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  24. ^ Sylvester, Daniel (September 13, 2017). "Antibalas Where the Gods Are in Peace". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  25. ^ "ANTIBALAS RELEASING NEW ALBUM 'FU CHRONICLES' ON DAPTONE RECORDS FEBRUARY 7TH". November 22, 2019. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  26. ^ "Daptone Records on Instagram: "@Antibalas is back with a new album, Fu Chronicles, out February 7th. Listen to their new single "Fight Am Finish" and pre-order now via link in profile: with a globetrotting 20-year career renowned for being a voice for the people across four decades of political and societal upheaval from the late '90s to today, Antibalas celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a stark return to their Williamsburg roots on its latest Daptone Records studio album, Fu Chronicles. Pre-gentrified Williamsburg serves as the backdrop for Fu Chronicles–voyaging back to the early days of when Antibalas and Daptone Records spawned out of lead singer Duke Amayo's kung fu dojo. A senior master of the Jow Ga Kung FuSchool of martial arts, Duke Amayo along with Antibalas founder/Baritone saxophonist Martín Perna guide listeners through an epic journey of where kung fu ingeniously intersects with Afrobeat on Fu Chronicles. #antibalas #daptonerecords"". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2019.

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