The short version of the Afrobeat story is that Nigerian musician Fela Kuti was inspired during a trip to America by the emerging sounds of funk to create his own African take on the rhythm-heavy jams of James Brown.
Much as Jamaican musicians mutated American R&B into ska and reggae, Afrobeat flipped funk around into a completely new sound, one that has heavily influenced underground dance music over the past 30 years.
So what can we say about the growing trend of white North American bands reinterpreting Afrobeat's quirky off-centre rhythms? Local big band Ultra Magnus have been making waves lately, in particular for their collaborations with hiphop MC Masia One, but also for their own songs and high-energy performances.
Friday night at Gypsy Co-op they touched down for two sets of sweaty Afro-Canadian funk, part of the club's ongoing weekly series of live showcases. They look more like a hippy jam band, and there wasn't much of an African presence in the audience, but if you closed your eyes they were pretty convincing.
The question is whether bands like Ultra Magnus should play traditional Afrobeat or let their own roots show through.
It would be harder to accuse them of appropriation if they didn't sound so reverential. Then again, some might accuse them of not getting it right and being disrespectful of the genre if they played with the formula too much.
It is possible to take Afrobeat influences and mesh them with other sounds, as Shawn Hewitt , Mr. Something Something and Afrodizz have shown, but it's also an easy thing to do badly, as countless worldbeat fusion bands have proven.
Goodbye, Roxy Blu
This weekend officially marked the last stand of Roxy Blu , and Friday night featured pretty much every local DJ who plays soulful house in the city. I was slated to play an early set in the lounge, which ordinarily would have been a bit boring. This night was special, though, as the club filled up much earlier than usual and the atmosphere was more charged than it's been for years. Many in attendance say it was the best night they'd ever had there, even if it was bittersweet.
Things are changing in Clubland at an astounding pace, and no one can predict what's going to happen next. The era of the underground boutique club appears to be over, but at the same time the over-saturation of the mainstream market is forcing many top-40 clubs to take chances on underground music again.
One thing's for sure: by the end of the summer Toronto's nightlife scene will look very different.
Felix and Gani expanding
Every few months, Milk's Felix and Gani throw a little shindig at Andy Poolhall . You may associate them with house music, but these days they play a much wider range of music, including disco obscurities, pop and electro-influenced tracks along with the four-on-the-floor.
Andy Poolhall has emerged as an unlikely hot spot - the layout is awkward, the sound system unimpressive and the crowd completely random. Despite these drawbacks, the place is busy almost every weekend, and while many might prefer top 40, last Saturday's crowd seemed quite willing to dance to tracks they've never heard before.