Words by LargeUp Crew
Walshy Fire has always been a man ahead of the curve. From his days as a mouthpiece for genre-bending dancehall sound system Black Chiney to authoring some of the earliest contributions to LargeUp, the Jamaica-born, Miami-raised DJ/MC and Major Lazer member is always pushing for new ways to further the reach of Caribbean culture.
Back in 2016, in one of his first moves as a producer, he connected Nigeria’s Runtown and Wizkid with Machel Montano on “Bend Down Pause.” That track not only became a runaway hit at Trinidad Carnival, it became a landmark release for Afro Soca, which was just beginning to connect the dots between the afrobeats sounds emanating from West Africa and the soundtrack and heartbeat of the West Indies in soca music.
Flash forward four years and Walshy has assembled an entire album in the spirit of “Bend Down Pause.” ABENG, which drops June 7th on Mad Decent, is the first full-length album at the intersection of afrobeats and dancehall/soca, pairing some of the biggest stars from both regions alongside one another on the same track.
So you have collaborations like “Call Me” which features one of afrobeats’ fastest rising stars in Mr. Eazi and Kranium, one of the most successful and visible dancehall acts of the last few years. “Outside” features highlife singer Adekunle Gold alongside soca royalty Nailah Blackman; “Round of Applause” pairs Nigeria’s Ice Prince with dancehall don Demarco. For good measure, “Bend Down Pause,” the track which started it all, appears as well.
To launch the project, on Friday Walshy released the video for “No Negative Vibes,” the lead single featuring Alkaline and Runtown. The track, with its self-explanatory theme, is perfectly timed to the start of the summer season.