Local Listen — Beasts Of No Nation As Music Makers, Spiritual Guides and Diasporic Teachers

Beasts Of No Nation
Photo Courtesy of Avery Jacob

The intention? “To truly to start this journey of an Afro-Fusion revolution.” How to initiate that journey? “To create a project that was an amalgamation of all of black music.” These answers drive Avery Jacob’s latest musical configuration, Beasts Of No Nation, a local supergroup taking ownership of their origins and sharing that ownership with the local music scene first and the world second. To jumpstart their revolution, Jacob teamed up with bassist Kai Addo, drummers Lucas Milowsky and Jontae Prince Gray, keyboardist Victor Chen, guitarist Ian “Big Easy” Burke, and vocalists J Orun and JoJo. As Emcee and lead vocalist, Jacob is known for always creating with intention, and Beasts Of No Nation’s debut EP Last Flight To Viberia pays homage to the African diaspora and honors their roots through sound.

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We last spoke with Jacob in 2021, just after the release of his solo single “Storm Coming.” Sometime after that, he took a southbound sabbatical — from Dallas, Texas, to his birthplace of Savannah, Georgia, to his second home of Atlanta, to various spots in South Carolina — to “further understand my origins.” That nomadic experience gave Jacob “the revelation that I have to teach people.” Upon his return to Denver, he got a “blessed” job as a Teaching Artist with Youth On Record. This new work reminded Jacob to “lean into tribal inspiration for the purpose of healing” and to continue to explore, manifest and create his identity. Reflecting on that revelation, Jacob summarized that “to truly understand ourselves, we have to go back to the beginning.”

That’s how Last Flight to Viberia came to be, which is indeed a musical “flight.” The EP takes listeners to the fictional place “ViBERiA,” inspired by the real place and “one of the first African Nations for free peoples,” Liberia. As Jacob described it, the four tracks on the EP are the four stages of flight. “The boarding with ‘Passport,’ the ascension with ‘Asé O,’ the peak altitude with ‘Slow Grind,’ and the descending moment with ‘After the Swig’.” The concept, he explained, was “to bring people into this place where the vibes are freedom.” The players of Beasts Of No Nation are the guides that bring listeners to this fabled place. And once you’re there, the guides walk listeners through the music and the metaphor because, in Jacob’s words, “We all need a squad when shit gets real.”

With the members of Beasts Of No Nation acting as counsel for one another, the EP was a natural collaboration between Jacob and co-writer JoJo, though “everyone put their foot in it.” The recording process took place at More Noise & Sounds Studios with producer Eric Luba, who helped “color this record.” Officially released on May 24, Last Flight to Viberia will hit the Denver stage this Saturday, June 8 when the band headlines Five Points Jazz Festival. They’ll also be performing at the Underground Music Festival this year alongside “so many esteemed peers,” in Jacob’s humble opinion. With one EP on the books, the group is working on a full-length album, so local music fans should stay tuned. Like everything Jacob touches, the next record is “going to be very special and everyone is putting their ‘Asé’ into it.”

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