Monday, September 19, 2016

AFRO Z-Ain't It Funny (2003)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 19, 2016

Yeah, it's funny alright—that is, how I keep digging up these albums from the past and turning them into brand new music addictions! I've somehow found myself regularly spending a lot of time—both online and offline—exploring the various sounds and talents out of the southernmost country on the African continent. The latest artist from there to grace my ears is the mixed male/female pop group that calls itself AFRO Z. A request for their only known album to date was made quite a long time ago, but I never forgot, capitalizing on the chance to finally hear it for my own entertainment purposes when the golden opportunity recently presented itself! I knew absolutely zero about AFRO Z prior to my very first listen to them today, but thankfully, they avoided becoming another 'mystery artist' to add to my ever-expanding case files by having a Facebook page dedicated to them available at https://www.facebook.com/Afro-Z-105131437755/. Meanwhile, I found "Ain't It Funny" to be absolutely no laughing matter at all; this crew is the real deal, and I determined that right away with their souliciously ethnic performance delivered on the opening cut, "Playing With My Mind". I couldn't help but to get attached to the tribal beats and the full-on thumping house rhythm while their words about people who create love drama pour over the music. The rap flow midway through is especially nice, and that same wise way with words adding some hip flavor to the beats would become a signature characteristic theme as my listening progressed. In particular, the rap being thrown down is amazing during the funky music explosion that is "Phenomenal", a terrific upbeat jam about how this one word 'phenomenal' basically says it all about how one feels about the other. My favorite parts are how the backup crew collectively chant 'phenomenal', 'unbelievable' and 'impossible' in a stylistic monotone throughout the main chorus, plus that spicy 'baby don't stop, baby don't stop it' hook! The ladies and the guys alternating with the lead vocal duties offers the listener a colorful palette of music diversity. When one of the guys isn't showing off while telling his story about love coming full circle on title track or demonstrating what he has to offer on the beautifully warming slow number, "I Got Love For You", it's one of the ladies persuading her man not to think too much and just let chemistry happen on the groovy dance jam, "Lay A Little Love On Me", reminding him not to underestimate her love on the touching and impressive solo piece, "Condition Of My Heart", demanding that truth be told about their relationship on "Don't Lie" (this one's got a really cool, syncopated beat that instantly awakens the pop lover's senses!) or declaring it big and bold that she's done with all the games and fooling around on "Been There, Done That". But no matter who was taking lead on any given cut or if they're alternating lead vocals within the same cut, my ears were always being treated to something good. It's pure sweet pleasure, for instance, listening to them joining in together on the chilled groove, "Coldest War" (well, chilled up to a point, before the surprise dance beat pops in and transforms it into quite the high-energy thriller!). Then as for the other cuts, I give props to the production crew for crafting the bombastically fun beats that made me get attached to "All I Wanna Do" (.....is make sweet love, to complete that thought, and I like the line in the lyrics about closing the door and giving her some more), "Blowing My Cool" (now this one's got some serious get-down-and-get-high-on-a-Friday-night appeal!) and, the one that sounds nearly exactly like "Blowing My Cool" in every way and even similar thematically, "Lately". Some may laugh at the fact that you're listening to something that's thirteen years old, but by the time your joyride with AFRO Z's "Ain't It Funny" is complete, it'll be you who gets the last laugh:

1. Playing With My Mind
2. Ain't It Funny
3. Coldest War
4. Phenomenal
5. Lay A Little Love On Me
6. Condition Of My Heart
7. All I Wanna Do
8. Lately
9. Blowing My Cool
10. Don't Lie
11. I Got Love For You
12. Been There, Done That
13. Roll With Me

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