What better way to pay tribute to the late Afrobeat trailblazing drummer, Tony Allen, then feature him on the newly released Gorillaz track “How Far?” also featuring British rapper Skepta. As previously reported here on mxdwn, “Legendary drummer and Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen has passed away. Allen, who was the musical director of Fela Kuti’s, died due to a heart attack at 79-years-old. Allen’s death is not linked to any COVID-19 complications.”
Gorillaz have successfully released six full-length studio albums: 2001’s eponymous Gorillaz, 2005’s Demon Days, 2010’s Plastic Beach, 2011’s The Fall, 2017’s Humanz and 2018’s The Now Now. The virtual electronic hip hop infused alternative rock outfit is comprised of frontman Damon Albarn of Blur fame (vocals, instrumentation, songwriter/director), Jamie Hewlett (artwork/visual effects, character design and video direction) and Remi Kabaka, Jr. (percussion, mixing/engineering and drum programming). The Westbourne Grove, London, England-based Gorillaz animated characters depicted include members 2-D (vocals), Russel Hobbs (drums), Noodle (guitar) and Murdoc Niccals (bass).
Allen and Albarn were very close musical cohorts, being that at one time they were in a band together, The Good, the Bad and the Queen. As previously noted in aforementioned mxdwn article, “Defined as a combination of West African musical style with American funk and jazz influences, Allen pioneered the Afrobeat genre. Known for his collaboration, Allen was also the drummer for the art-rock group The Good, The Bad and The Queen alongside Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon and Simon Tong.” This is furthered by a Variety article that goes in-depth with the collaborations between Allen and Albarn, “Albarn and Allen also were both a part of the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen, formed in 2006. Along with Paul Simonon from the The Clash and Simon Tong of The Verve, the group released its self-titled debut album in 2007 and a follow-up called ‘Merrie Land’ in 2018.”
The latest Gorillaz track “How Far?” comes complete with lush production as well as drums provided by the late great Allen that bounces off well with layered strings and bass that give it a dark seedy cinematic experience, reminiscent of Gorillaz earlier works such as their breakout smash hit, “Clint Eastwood.” Skepta takes the helm at the mic with vicious and raw rhymes, as well as an equally aggressive hook.
The aforementioned Variety article also included the recent Twitter post by Albarn paying tribute to his late friend Allen, “The video shows Allen drumming and is captioned with a quote from him saying ‘There is no end.'”
There is no end – Tony Allen pic.twitter.com/a5fHxFgvYm
— Damon Albarn (@Damonalbarn) May 1, 2020
To listen to Gorillaz “How Far?” featuring Tony Allen and Skepta stream below, via YouTube.