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PRIDE: Afrikan Boy

HISTORICAL FIGURE Kunta Kinte has in-spired many things since he leapt off the pages of Alex Hayley’s iconic novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Musicians from Roots Manuva to Lil Wayne have in-cluded the famed African slave in their songs, as the ultimate symbol of defiance in the face of great oppression.

Following suit is British MC Afrikan Boy, whose new single titled Kunta Kinte samples an extract from the original television series Roots, and blends a mixture of Afrobeats, house and reggae.

Here, the south London MC of Nigerian heritage – famed for his track One Day I Went To Lidl – explains his mystical connection to the African slave.

Why did you decide to name your new song Kunta Kinte?
It was inspired by Roots. It’s a spiritual track for me with a message; no matter how many times you are whipped or criticized, remain yourself. Every time I perform the song is when you see me fully. As an artist, when you listen to lots of different music, you get tempted to do something else, which is cool. But then you can get lost in it and forget who you are. I was fi ghting to remain me – to remain Afrikan Boy.

What do you think about the acclaim Afrobeats has been able to garner recently?
Of course, Afrobeats has always been popular but there was a time when bashment and grime was reign-ing. It’s about time Afrobeats made it big, but like I said I’m Afrikan Boy and we’ve been trying to push the music since 2000.

How important is your Nigerian heritage to you as a musician?
A lot of young people don’t know who they are or they are looking for their identity. I’m black British; I love the fact that I’m British and I love the fact that I’m Nigerian. I have different cultural backgrounds and I’m comfortable with it. Through the celebration of music, I had my new label directors doing the Anzonto [dance], which is what it’s about. Afrobeats is really special because it is a celebration of cultures.

Will the popularity of Afrobeats last forever, or is it just a phase in modern music history?
It’s been here, it ain’t going nowhere. Whether it’s a phase in the eyes of the media is something else. We’ve seen funky house come and go and other different types of music come and go, but Afrobeats is always going to be here.

Kunta Kinte is out on Meltdown re-cords on April 15. For more information, visit www.afrikanboy.co.uk

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