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Sir Victor Uwaifo steps into the afrobeats era

Nigerian seventies highlife legend Victor Uwaifo just released a new song and video which should reintroduce him to a new generation of afrobeats fans. The transition from his brand of highlife to the sound of Nigeria today isn’t very smooth though, as Uwaifo traded his guitar for a techno-inspired keyboard riff.

‘Sir’ Victor Uwaifo is one of the most prolific artists to come out of the highlife generation of the 1960s and he enjoys international respect until today, with a career spanning five decades. The peak of his creativity was in the 1970s and early 80s when, with his bands His Melody Maestroes and from 1977 The Titibitis, he unleashed classic after classic and introducing his own brand of highlife. Highlights of the era include ‘Talk Of The Town – Ekassa’ (1973) and ‘Jackpot’ (1981). Uwaifo’s legacy was dusted off a bit with the recent renewed interest in vintage Nigerian music, and in 2008 UK based label Soundway released a ‘best of’ from his 70s output, ‘Guitar-Boy Superstar 1970-76’. Some of his best dance tracks were edited and sold as bootlegs to European deejays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6LJeHq5cY4

After a hiatus, last year December it was announced that the musical veteran signed to 2Face Idibia’s rebranded record label Hypertek Digital, and the singer commented: ‘To belong to the artistes in HyperTek is my joy. I have the propensity to change. If you say it’s jazz, I’ll play jazz. If you say it’s hip-hop, I’ll play it…’ The quote should prepare his long-time fans for a radical change which leaves little from the analog, layered Uwaifo sound as you may have known it. The beat, in (new school) afrobeats/house style, was done by producer Leriq, representing Aristokrat records for whom he produced Burna Boy’s Life album and a lot more. Leriq released ‘Comment tu t’appelle’, the first single from his upcoming album, in January.

Victor Uwaifo’s voice can still compete with the new generation of afrobeats artists, a remarkable feat for a man over 70 who has been putting out records since the mid 60s. But while most of his musical innovations of the 70s and 80s were heir to his previous efforts, the music on ‘Bobozi’ is more of a break from the past than a bridge between the old and new. Renowned video producer Clarence Peters did a good job making Uwaifo look funky and fresh in the accompanying video.

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