AfriCali re-invents the Afrobeat sound on new single

AfriCali are a California-based band made up of Nico Georis and South African MC Eyezon Soweto. The duo have released their latest single, ‘THE S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E.’, a unique blend of soulful rock, blues, heavy rhythms and percussion of 1970s Ethiopian music topped with coastal-psych seasoning. It’s a sound that embodies the meaning of Afro-fusion. ‘THE S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E.’ is an all-around powerful track that invites you to enjoy the band's version of Afrobeat.

Eyezon Soweto, South Africa-born frontman of AfriCali. Photo: Facebook
Eyezon Soweto, South Africa-born frontman of AfriCali. Photo: Facebook

Produced and written by Nico Georis and Eyezon, 'THE S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E.' showcases Eyezon's original prose and melds political poetry, Marvin Gaye-influenced R&B and the deep, rhythmic jams. Georis plays keyboards like a lead guitar and Eyezon uses his voice like a second lead instrument. 

Not to be confused with the Colombian band of the same name, AfriCali took root in the summer of 2010 at the Nacarubi Festival in Big Sur, California. Eyezon Soweto hit the stage, joining Nico Georis on keys, during Sky Country's set. After a late-night jam session around the campfire, Eyezon approached Nico with a new genre on their hands, dubbed ‘Afri-Cali’. It’s a term Eyezon came up with due to him being a product of Northern California by way of his native South Africa. He describes Afri-Cali as "a mixture of Afrobeat truth-consciousness with a California street swagger, morphed with hip-hop and drenched in cultural roots".

Eyezon credits Afrobeat as the central influence on the creation of Afri-Cali music, but there is a slight difference: "Afri-Cali is lighter than Afrobeat in terms of feel, where Afrobeat is heavier, funkier stuff," he recently told Monterey County Weekly.

Shortly after their first joint shows, the band’s popularity grew and they soon headlined the Hidden Valley Music Center in Carmel Valley, California. Now the talented musicians have garnered the attention from fans all over the place, including the likes of Brooklyn Bodega, Bohemian.com and OkayAfrica.

Eyezon grew up in South Africa, where he says music was his escape from apartheid, poverty and the daily struggle at that time. Inspired by the sounds of local stars like Hugh Masekela and Brenda Fassie as well as international acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson, Eyezon began to realise that music would be his muse. He was introduced to hip-hop in school in the mid-1990s by artists like Tumi Molekane and others. He sees a connection between rapping and the political slogans sung or chanted during political protests in South Africa. His love for both hip-hop and South African music stirred up his co-creation of AfriCali with producer Nico Georis. Today their sound and culture has swept the California area and it is spreading - fast!

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