Topic: Fela’s Influence

Uhuru Afrika NYC 12-12-14 at Meridian 23 Photo Credit: ©2014 Power Quevedo

DJ Adam Gibbons Shares Playlist of Favorite Fela Kuti Songs

We’re excited to share a playlist from DJ Adam Gibbons of Uhuru Afrika! It is the latest installment in our ongoing playlist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti.

Working in the industry for over 20 years, Adam Gibbons strives to share his passion for music with the crowds he plays for and in the events and music that he produces. Specializing in an Afro and Latin dance floor sound, his ability to blend traditional African and Latin rhythms with modern electronic influenced music creating a soundscape that is his own. Gibbons has visited seven African nations, gathering inspiration. He has studied African hand percussion with Bob Bloom, Faculty Advisor at the Olatunji Institute, learning the Olatunji method of traditional Yoruba percussion, as well as Malian Manding tradition with Sidy Maiga. He has played in clubs and festivals all over the world, sharing the stage with heavyweight and grammy winning artists such as Femi Kuti (3x), Bebel Gilberto, Oumou Sangaré, Tony Allen, Antibalas, Bill Laswell, Triloc Gurtu, Shiela E, Osunlade, Thievery Corporation, King Britt, Black Coffee, Ron Trent, Jazzanova, Quantic, Rich Medina, and so many more. His current project Uhuru Afrika is known globally and hosts monthly events in both Boston and NYC.

On his relationship with Fela’s music, Gibbons said:

I found Fela Kuti when I was a teenager just starting to broaden my musical spectrum. I had been an avid bebop fan for quite some time when I started to explore deeper and discover the African roots of Jazz through albums like Pharaoh Sanders’ Thembe. The first album that I heard of Fela’s was Expensive Shit. This album changed my whole perspective on music. I had never heard anything like it but it instantly resonated with me on a very deep level. I was blown away and like a kid in a candy store, I dove in. I only hoped he had at least two or three albums… but there were dozens of them! At the time, I had no understanding of who Fela was, what his experience was like, what his struggle was about or what he was fighting/singing/protesting for. I did know that I felt this music was powerful in a way that I had never experienced music to be powerful.

For more on DJ Adam Gibbons, visit his Facebook and SoundCloud. Listen to his latest single here and latest remixes here & here.

For more on Uhuru Afrika, visit their Facebook and SoundCloud, where you’ll find their latest DJ mixes.


Mishka art

Fela Zombie Walks in Mishka Design

We recently shared some Fela vinyl with Mishka’s designer Lamour Supreme who took the Fela spirit to a new place with an inspired Zombie / МИШКА design. Known for it’s Brooklyn roots МИШКА has been a streetwear fixture since 2003. Founded by Mikhail Bortnik and Greg Rivera, МИШКА began as a company that made cool t-shirts. It has since grown into a lifestyle brand that has created its own culture. МИШКА traces its roots back to New York City’s “fertile crescent” of Hip-Hop, Street-art and Punk. МИШКА has grown into an internationally renowned brand with a presence in four continents. Its rebellious and individualistic nature has appealed to people of various cultures, and it continues to find homes in new and exciting regions.

МИШКА’s universe is open and inclusive. МИШКА celebrates the strangeness of the world and bucks the exclusionary measures that have plagued anything labeled as “cool.” Anybody who has a passion for the unusual, divergent and strange can find a connection to МИШКА and its culture. For these reasons we found the partnership with МИШКА irresistible!

Proud to be a part of the МИШКА universe – Zombie lives again!

Zombie no go go, unless you tell am to go (Zombie)
Zombie no go stop, unless you tell am to stop (Zombie)
Zombie no go turn, unless you tell am to turn (Zombie)
Zombie no go think, unless you tell am to think (Zombie)



erykah-badu-fela-kuti

Erykah Badu Releases Favorite Fela Kuti Song Playlist

As part of our ongoing playlist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti, Erykah Badu shares with us her top Fela Kuti songs. Grammy award winning musician, activist, and actress, she has been a voice for social concerns and struggles within the African-American community.

Erykah took her time creating this list, carefully listening in order to “try and get the frequency right.” At one point switching her initial selections of “Just Like That” for “Beasts of No Nation” and “ROFOROFO Fight” to “Je’Nwi Temi (Don’t Gag Me).” We’re proud to share her playlist with you!

And for some more insight into her selections…

1. “Coffin For Head of State” because the message is so clear and profound. I feel like I’m walking with them. It’s a funeral processional that ends on the steps of the police station. Ha. I played this song on blast from my balcony on repeat when I moved into this house to let the neighbors know what type of party it was. I had no furniture.

2. “No Agreement” because the groove is a HESI. A chant. A prayer. Locked on the 1. No matter how many baths I take, after this song the funk re mains. Yes RE & MAINS is two words.

3. “Army Arrangement” is a classic . Nice obscure piano solo. I appreciate it’s imperfections. Hypnotic.

4. “Je’Nwi Temi (Don’t Gag Me)” — that’s what she said.

5. “Beasts of No Nation” is an epic piece. Maybe one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It was strong and very very social politically forward. Lol. The album cover had 3 of the former presidents depicted as blood sucking demons. Now that was brave for Africa in the 80’s, to say the least. Ironically the chord progressions are very beautiful. It’s an emotional piece.

For fans in Dallas check out her new one woman show – and her new mix tape coming out soon!



Felabration Ghana Kicks Off Tonight!

Felabration Ghana Kick Off!

Felabration Ghana kicked off with Ebo Taylor leading the official Felabration event at The Alliance Francaise in Accra. Graphic Online reporter Edward Agyemang-Duah reports:

Veteran guitarist,composer and arranger, Ebo Taylor, who generated the idea to celebrate the famous Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre and political activist here in Ghana, led the Ghana event and shed some light on Fela’s music and its impact across the world.

Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Kyekyeku, Villy & the Xtreme Volumes and Yaa Yaa Kankam performed their own songs and tributes to Fela, aside from Ebo Taylor.

An exhibition of posters, titled Buy Africa, put together by Joseph Oduro-Frimpong of Ashesi University, which opened on the night and ended on November 8, highlighted the legacy of Fela’s music. The aim was to call attention to aspects of Fela’s life and music worth emulating. That is, to boldly name and shame our political leaders and their cronies whose corrupt practices rob ordinary citizens of decent lives?

Created by Yeni Anikulapo Kuti in honour of her father and Afrobeat creator in 1998, Felaboration is one of the biggest cultural gatherings on the continent and beyond. It is recognised in respected music circles globally that Fela Kuti was inspired by the Ghanaian highlife in the creation of Afrobeat.

According to Alliance Francaise, the Accra event is endorsed by the Felabration Organising Committee (FOC) in Lagos, Nigeria.”

Read more HERE.


British Library Felabration Thrills a Sold Out Crowd!

British Library Felabration Thrills a Sold Out Crowd!

A sold out crowd gathered for the British Library’s “Late at the Library: Felabration!” on October 16th, and fans worldwide tuned in to watch the livestreaming event. Dele Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra got Felabration started with the energy rising as Tony Allen, 2face Idibia, Laura Mvula, Shingai Shoniwa, Afrikan Boy, Terri Walker, The Floacist, Bumi Thomas, Audrey Gbaguidi, Ed Keazor, The Trinity College Afrobeat Ensemble and DJ Kochi Sakai joined the party! Rikki Stein, organiser of the event tells us “The vibe in the library was electric and the packed audience were beside themselves and didn’t budge an inch til the very end!”

The British Library event was part of official Felabrations around the world which are the annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Nigerian’s foremost musical icon, the late great Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The idea and concept of Felabration as an annual celebration of Fela’s music, life and times, originated from his eldest child Yeni who conceived it in 1998.

‘Late at the Library: Felabration!’ is part of the British Library’s ‘West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song’ exhibition which opened on the same day (http://www.bl.uk/events/west-africa-word-symbol-song). The exhibition uses beautiful manuscripts, sound, film and more, tracing the written and oral cultural history of West Africa for the past three centuries.

Photo credit: Gavin Mills


Felabration Live Stream

Felabration Live Stream – Tune in at 21:00 GMT (4pm EDT) October 16th!

Super-charged only begins to describe the upcoming sold out Felabration at the British Library on October 16, 2015! The British Library line up that includes The Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra, Tony Allen, 2face Idibia, Laura Mvula, Shingai Shoniwa, Afrikan Boy, Terri Walker, The Floacist, Bumi Thomas, Audrey Gbaguidi, Ed Keazor, The Trinity College Afrobeat Ensemble and DJ Kochi Sakai! Tune it at 21:00 GMT at the link below to be a part of it all!

The link below will be active at 21:00 GMT (4pm EDT) on Friday, October 16th!

Click here to LIVESTREAM FELABRATION!

‘Late at the Library: Felabration!’ is part of the British Library’s ‘West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song’ exhibition which opens on the same day (http://www.bl.uk/events/west-africa-word-symbol-song). The exhibition uses beautiful manuscripts, sound, film and more, tracing the written and oral cultural history of West Africa for the past three centuries. ‘Late at the Library: Felabration!’ includes free access (until 10pm) to the exhibition.

As a warm up to Felabration, from 18:45 to 20:00, in the Conference Centre of the British Library, Nigerian artist and graphic designer Lemi Ghariokwu talks about creating the iconic sleeves for most of Fela Kuti’s albums, and their close personal and artistic relationship, which gave him an instinctive, complex and highly creative response to the music and its social and political messages.
Tickets (£5) + info: http://www.bl.uk/events/lemi-ghariokwu-art-and-afrobeat

And for those wanting to dig deeper, check out the screening of Alex Gibney’s 2014 documentary ‘Finding Fela’, followed by live conversations with Fela’s manager Rikki Stein, as well as Dele Sosimi, Lemi Ghariokwu, 2face Idibia, Tony Allen and other special guests, on Saturday, 17 October, 14:00, at the Conference Centre in the British Library.
Tickets (£8) + info: http://www.bl.uk/events/finding-fela-plus-qanda


Fact Magazine Celebrates the Life Of Fela Kuti!

Fact Magazine Celebrates the Life Of Fela Kuti!

Fact Magazine celebrates the life of Fela Kuti in it’s story “Remembering the Shrine, Fela Kuti’s Shamanic Temple and Political Soapbox” by Robert Barry. The story includes poignant quotes from Femi Kuti on the significance of the history of the Shrine.

“Femi recalls returning home one day, after having moved back in with his father as a teenager, to find his house on fire: “I was coming back from school and I saw all the soldiers there. I ran back to tell my mother that the house was burnt.” Fela’s 75-year-old mother was thrown out of a first floor window and died a few months later from the injuries. Her son responded by delivering a coffin to the official residence of the Head of State, Olesogun Olesanjo.

An even more brutal raid came about four years later. “They picked us up at the Shrine and took us all to the police headquarters,” says Femi. “That’s when I saw him. They had handcuffed his hands to his legs and they threw him in the back of a Land Rover and he was bleeding from head to toe. They beat him so much he remembered his spirit leaving his body. He thought he was dead. And then when he felt his spirit go back into his body, he never felt so much pain his life. They told him to sit in the corner of the cell and told me to sit on the chair. I refused. I got up and went to sit beside him. They took him to a special police station where they normally put people that are charged for armed robbery when they want to execute them. Then they locked me back in the cell. It probably was the biggest raid I witnessed.”

It must have taken incredible determination to carry on in the face of that kind of brutalisation. “I think that’s why a lot of people appreciate him,” suggests Femi. “Because he had so many opportunities to leave the country and seek political asylum. He could’ve stopped talking and just had a good life. He was already very famous. But he never compromised. So I think this is why he is still very relevant.”

The story also includes an interview with our very own Rikki Stein, Fela’s manager of 15 years (who helped to build this very site!) Rikki recalls when he first heard Fela and the Africa 70…

““I was lying in the back of a Mercedes van on the M4 motorway, lying in a heap of African dancers, on our way back from a gig. Somebody put on a cassette and it was ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’. And I was gobsmacked. You know, sometimes you hear something that really registers. I thought, who the fuck is this? He was talking to me. I just felt some real affinity.””

Read more HERE.


Sandra Iszodore

Sandra Izsadore Shares Her Favorite Fela Kuti Songs Playlist

As part of our ongoing artist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti, we are honored to have Sandra Izsadore share her favorite Fela Kuti songs playlist with us on Fela Kuti’s birthday! Sandra is part of the origins of Afrobeat, having introduced Fela to black consciousness during Fela’s time in Los Angeles in 1969. Sandra and Fela’s music and life together live on in songs like “Upside Down.” Sandra is performing this year, which would have been Fela’s 77th birthday, at the world’s largest Felabration taking place right now in Nigeria at the New Afrika Shrine (Ikeja)!

“Once Fela was introduced to Pan Afrikanism he became that Political Icon Musician who did not compromise. He was and is to this day the voice of the people.” – Sandra Izsadore

We hope you enjoy her playlist! Look for other playlists in the series HERE!



Dante Ross Releases Fela Kuti Playlist

Dante Ross Releases Fela Kuti Playlist

As part of our ongoing artist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti, Grammy award winning producer and one of Complex Magazines “.. Best A&Rs in Hip-Hop History” Dante Ross dives deep into Fela’s music and talks to us about his introduction to Fela and what the music stirs in him.

“My pops was a big Fela fan and he took me to see him at the Ritz in NY with Egypt 80 when I was 14-15 years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. The music of Fela has a meditative quality that makes a day at home reading a book or on the couch relaxing even that much more priceless. Fela’s songs are proof for me that god exists in music.”

We hope you enjoy Dante’s playlist! Visit other playlists in the series HERE.

Here’s what Dante had to say about the songs in his playlist:

“ITT – This was the first Fela record I listened to religiously. I
feel in love with this record in my late teens. My pops was a big Fela
fan and he took me to see him at the Ritz in NY with Egypt 80 when I
was 14-15 years old. I discovered this record a bit later and
instantly became hooked. The album Black President opened the door for
my exploration into Fela and Afrobeat. The title and chorus chant
alone (International Thief Thief) spotlights the political and satirical brilliance that is Fela Kuti.

“Fear Not For Man” – The drums in the intro and the hypnotic organ line
are mesmerizing as is the tune all 14 minutes of it. The groove is
just so relentless and obviously James Brown influenced. A great great dance record.
Tony Allen’s playing on this and all his Fela recordings are just
superb, He is on is the bar which all drummers aspire to. His groove
is so deep and he plays the most intricate time signatures with the
greatest of ease. On all Fela’s music the drums are the pulse and Tony Allens pulse was magnificent.
One of the all time greatest drummers in almost everyones book.

“Africa Center Of The World” – Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers Found this record
during my crate digging days. Kenny Dope’s re-edit / remastering of
this is amazing. Another hypnotic, relentless groove and dance floor
rocker. This always reminds me of Rich Medina’s Jump N’ Funk Fela
parties he did in NYC circa 2004 or so, Also a classic for Danny
Krivit’s body and soul parties.The combo of Roy Ayers and Fela has a
spiritual connotation.

Colonial Mentality – The saxophone intro groove with those drums is so
gorgeous. This song for unknown reasons brings up a strong emotion for me.
It tugs at my heart in a weird and inexplicable way. Love this song I
have listened to it on repeat all day a bunch of times in my life.
Once again the chanting vocals provide an hypnotic feel that only Fela’s music can provide.
The repetition is gorgeous there is no part of the chord progression
left unexplored. Like most Fela music it has a meditative quality that
makes for a good day at the crib reading a book on the couch relaxing
priceless. This song is proof for me that god exists in music.

Lady- Saved my favorite for last. This song is maybe Fela’s most famous.
It’s just a brilliant piece of music. Fela and Africa 70 just beat the
groove to death exploring every inch of the progression building on it
time and time again only to strip it down and build it up again. This
tune exemplifies the brilliance of Fela and Afro beat in all it’s
glory from the chant vocal, to the English lyrics, the unforgettable
melody and the percussive nature of the rhythm that is beyond
relentless. I can listen to this song forever and always find a new
thing in it, a new piece of inspiration, another thing that makes Fela
and James Brown musical kindred spirits.”