Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is a Brooklyn-based afrobeat band that is modeled after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive Orchestra. Although their music generally follows the musical architecture and language of afrobeat, it incorporates elements of jazz, funk, dub, improvised music, and traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa.
Founded in 1998 by Martín Perna as "Conjunto Antibalas", the group first performed on May 26, 1998 at St. Nicks Pub in Harlem at a poetry night organized by renowned visual artist Xaviera Simmons. Over the course of the next few months, the group solidified with a core of eleven band members and expanded their repertoire of original songs. For the first year of the group's existence, they performed exclusively at non-commercial venues such as block parties, lofts, and public parks, before securing a Friday night residency at the now-defunct NoMoore in August 1999. Called Africalia!, the residency lasted from August 1999-April 2001, when the club was shut down by fire officials during the Giuliani administration's crackdown on nightclubs and cabarets. Guitarist and producer/engineer Gabriel Roth wrote several of the earlier tunes and oversaw recording and production of the first three records.