The soundtrack to the ground breaking musical “Hamilton” was released on Friday – co-produced by Questlove and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter who both have recently shared with us their memories and favorite Fela Kuti songs. Questlove talks about the play and his reflection on Fela! on Broadway with Rolling Stone magazine:
“Hamilton is Hamilton. Every time I go to look for something to compare it to, I come up short. There’s really not a set precedent. The closest I can come is Fela!, a brilliant Broadway musical that did things with the form that no one could have imagined. But Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about the life of the most interesting and most star-crossed of our Founding Fathers, is something different, something all to itself.”
“Whilst drumming up support for his new Broadway musical, FELA!, producer Stephen Hendel described Nigerian Afrobeat exponent Fela Kuti as “without question one of the great composers and musicians and activists of the second half of the 20th century.” It sounds like a bold claim on first consideration, but becomes all the harder to dismiss after soaking in the sights and sounds of prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s Finding Fela (2014). A soulful ‘Felabration’ of the magnetic Kuti, archive footage of the snake-hipped lothario is here interspersed with a live recording of the hugely successful FELA!, the first Broadway show to ever make the journey from New York to the bustling Nigerian capital city of Lagos.” -Read the full review HERE
The African Premiere of Finding Fela at the New Afrika Shrine, Lagos on Sunday October 12th
Alex Gibney’s Finding Fela (2014) is a sweeping portrait of the artist as guerilla warrior. Set to the insistent groove of Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti’s revolutionary Afrobeat sound, the remarkable story of one man’s courageous stand against a corrupt and dictatorial government gives testament to the transformative power of music as a force of social and political unification.
Finding Fela had it’s premire in Nigeria during the start of Felabration 2014 at the New Afrika Shrine on October 12th as as the part of the activities to kick off the 2014 Felabration (which will run from October 12 to 19)
The box set comes with 7 LPs selected by Brian Eno, a poster, 12-page booklet with a foreword by Eno, song lyrics, and in-depth commentaries by Afrobeat historian Chris May.
London Scene (1971), Shakara (1972), Gentleman (1973), Afrodisiac (1973), Zombie (1976), Upside Down (1976), and I.T.T. (1980)
“I remember the first time I listened [to Fela Kuti’s album Afrodisiac] and how dazzled I was by the groove and the rhythmic complexity, and by the raw, harsh sounds of the brass, like Mack trucks hurtling across highways with their horns blaring. Everything I thought I knew about music at that point was up in the air again.” -Brian Eno
“Only in a few places did the music performed onstage veer into the neighboring territory of polemic. The Roots performed a moving version of Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy.” It was the sort of gesture that underscores this band’s value — it’s flexible, improvisationally deft, and unafraid of statement-making. (The show’s credits indicated D’Angelo was to perform with them, but he was nowhere to be seen.” –New York Times
“FINDING FELA”, the latest documentary by Alex Gibney, is a muddled but strangely likeable fever dream of a film. With only the faintest hint of structure, this introduction to Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician and political activist who died in 1997 of complications related to AIDS, often seems as nomadic as the African-jazz mash-ups that he made famous. ” -The Economist
If you caught Finding Fela on the big screen you’ll remember seeing Questlove give his insights on Fela Kuti‘s message and the uncompromising political stance behind his work. Limited to a short snippet in the actual documentary, okayafrica has unearthed full footage of the interview which has Quest telling the stories of how he came across Fela’s music in Santigold‘s jeep, the boldness of the afrobeat legend’s compositions, and how he got a morning phone call from Jay Z after an early showing of the Fela! musical.