Obituary: William Onyeabor

Who is William Onyeabor?  Luaka Bop (2013)

Who is William Onyeabor? Luaka Bop (2013)

Elliot Leavy

Last week, the world bid farewell to Nigerian mythic music pioneer William Onyeabor. A visionary and entrepreneur who composed and self-released nine genre shaping electronic-funk albums over an eight year period. His most recent re-release Who is William Onyeabor (2013) took the world by storm and reaffirmed Onyeabor as one of West Africa’s most prolific artists.

Becoming Born Again later in his life, he sadly never performed any of his crisp backbeat, Afrobeat horn packed skronk live. Yet Onyeabor’s music has had a rippling effect on the music world ever since it was first released, and his fanbase stretches not only across continents and but also generations: citing the likes of David Byrne (who’s record label Luaka Bop orchestrated the re-release) as well as Four Tet as avid fans.

Onyeabor’s talent emerged during the 1960’s and 70’s when European imperialism receded; paving for an African renaissance in culture. Today, Afrocentric music is more popular than ever and can be seen as a celebration of the inclusive and international populace that the world has created. Pioneers such as Onyeabor had a huge hand in this bombastic new world – and we will forever thank him for it.

William Onyeabor, Atomic Bomb (1983)

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