Tiny Desk


Download Audio

17 min 8 sec

There just aren't many bands like Antibalas. These are jazz players making dance music: Their music is big and fun, and their guiding spirit is Fela Kuti, the brilliant big-band leader and Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. Afrobeat is a musical style featuring nearly endless songs, mixing funk and jazz, grooves and riffs, with the rhythm carried by not only the drums, but everyone. Everyone — horn players, bass players, guitarists — plays rhythm in Afrobeat music.

Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is a Brooklyn ensemble, and 11 members turned up at the Tiny Desk. Many of these musicians may be familiar to listeners of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Roots, Paul Simon or Public Enemy. Most recently, Antibalas found some fame performing — and some of the members arranging and directing music — for the Tony-winning Broadway stage presentation of Fela!

It's one thing for a big group to make a big sound — and, sure, Antibalas does that — but what stands out is the subtlety of this ensemble; the way the horns weave in and out of each other, sometimes complementing and at other times inspiring and creating musical conversation between players. That extends to all the players, from vocals to guitar. When you start to listen to that conversation and you hear that build in a rhythm, it's so powerful, so full of joy. If they come to your town, drop what you're doing and go see them. Wear dancing shoes.

Set List
  • "Dirty Money"
  • "Him Belly Go No Sweet"

Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Lauren Rock; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Julia Reihs/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Reihs/NPR

Tiny Desk

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

The trumpeter presents his emotionally charged, jazz-hybridized "stretch music" in performance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Deqn Sue. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Deqn Sue

She came so close to winning NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert Contest, we just had to see her play.

Tiny Desk Concert with Lianne La Havas Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Lianne La Havas

The singer is soulful yet playful, raw and vulnerable in a commanding kind of way.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Internet. Cameron Robert/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Cameron Robert/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Internet

The R&B band might just be the oddest thing to come from the hip-hop collective Odd Future.

Tiny Desk Concert with Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg. Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Joan Shelley

As technology rules the day, here's a reminder that a single voice can carry deep emotion.

Tiny Desk Concert with Gina Chavez Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gina Chavez

The Austin singer-songwriter performs with intense openness, directness and warmth.

Fiona Apple performs with the Watkins Family Hour at the Tiny Desk. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Tiny Desk

Watkins Family Hour

With help from Fiona Apple, two Nickel Creek alums gather a band to perform old and new songs.

Tiny Desk Concert with Chris and Morgane Stapleton Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chris Stapleton

With his wife Morgane, the country singer-songwriter sings patient, detailed songs of devotion.

Tiny Desk Concert with Sam Lee Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Sam Lee

The singer found his voice by finding and preserving old British, Irish and Scottish folk songs.

Tiny Desk Concert with Leon Bridges Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Leon Bridges

Bridges is easy to love and hard to resist, with purity in his voice that's untouched by modern pop.

Back To Top