As part of our ongoing artist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti, Questlove shares with us his favorite Fela Kuti songs. Questlove appears in the documentary film “Finding Fela” where he describes the music of Fela “…it’s not microwave music, it’s souffle. It’s a slow burn that just sizzles, and gets hotter.” It’s the perfect description and this playlist will take you from slow burn, to sizzle to totally hot! On the life of Fela, Questlove adds:
“He clearly had the ear and the adoration of the people. To use this time & time again, and to get thrown in jail every time a single comes out. I mean, I have 16 records and can’t imagine that I might have to go to jail for every time my album comes out. Not many people are willing to suffer for their craft.”
We hope you enjoy the Questlove favorite Fela songs playlist and other playlists giving tribute to the life and music of Fela Kuti in our Spotify playlist series!
As part of our ongoing artist series giving tribute to Fela Kuti, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter shares with us his memories and favorite Fela Kuti tracks. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter is the co-founder and MC of the legendary Philadelphia-based hip-hop group The Roots. Thought is highly renowned in the Hip-Hop community for his socially aware, informed and character-driven rap style.
“I was introduced to the music of Fela Kuti in 1994 by my good friend Santi Gold. I accompanied her to a record store in Philly to purchase some of her dad’s favorite music as a birthday gift for him. I decided to purchase the album “Original Suffer Head” for myself and the rest is history. I identified with the Nigerian Afrobeat sound in a way that I had never identified with any other music before and the spirit and feel of Fela’s music became the soundtrack for the best part of my life.”
As part of our ongoing artist playlist series giving tribute to the legacy of Fela Kuti, Talib Kweli shares with us his favorite Fela Kuti songs. After nearly 20 years of releasing mesmerizing music, Talib Kweli stands as one of the world’s most talented and most accomplished rappers. The Brooklyn-based rapper earned his stripes as one of the most lyrically-gifted, socially aware and politically insightful rappers to emerge in the last 20 years. He shares with us his thoughts on Fela Kuti, the music and the message:
“Fela Kuti shows us that the music of the oppressed must always be connected to the struggle. It is never made just for the sake of making something beautiful, it has purpose that goes far beyond entertainment. Fela taught us how to be exactly who we are and to be unapologetic about it.”
We hope you enjoy and follow our series and the music created by Talib Kweli!
A delegation of the ONE campaigning organisation, led by its co-founder and spokesman, U2 front man, Bono, visited Femi Kuti at his New Afrika Shrine in Lagos last night. They had an animated discussion which they both enjoyed and Bono then stayed for Femi’s performance. According to all accounts, Bono was enjoying it so much that, despite being urged by his colleagues that they had to leave for another engagement, he refused to budge!
Be a part of the movement and enjoy music and more at our online shop!
“Afrobeat and Afrobeats — the difference a letter can make. Afrobeats is both the evolution and in many ways antithesis of its prefixed forebear. Having slowly emerged over the past several years, it exists in diametrical opposition to all Kuti and his movement stood for, a mutated spawn in flat cap and British accent. As such, its existence is polarising. For those, fists raised in solidarity, whose ears are attuned to the organic instrumental grooves and consciousness in music, usually in the minority, it invokes a stubborn ignorance. Conversely, for those more prone to pop sensibilities — the millions increasingly latching on to the Afrobeats sound — it provides a dull awareness of the music that lends their new favourite genre its name.”
Read more about the Afrobeats musical trend and influence of Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti.
Brian Eno has just released a Spotify playlist of his Top 5 Favorite Fela Kuti songs!
“Before about mid-September 1973 I didn’t have much interest in polyrhythmic music. I didn’t really get it. That all changed one Autumn day when I walked into Stern’s Record Shop off Tottenham Court Road in London.
For reasons I’ve long forgotten, I left the store with an album that was to change my life dramatically. It was AFRODISIAC by Fela Ransome-Kuti (as he was then known) and his band The Africa 70. I remember the first time I listened 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. The sheer force and drive of this wild Nigerian stuff blew my mind. My friend Robert Wyatt called it ‘Jazz from another planet’ – and suddenly I thought I understood the point of jazz, until then an almost alien music to me.”
The Quietus profiles London-born, Lagos-raised Dele Sosimi, who was “introduced to the work of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti while still at school.” Sosimi would go on to play keys in Fela’s Egypt ’80 group, eventually becoming the musical director when Femi Kuti took on leadership of the band.
Now, on the heels of releasing You No Fit Touch Am, his first album in almost a decade, Sosimi plays back his top 13 LPs for Quietus writer Richie Troughton. “This is me,” he says.
With the help of a a $250,000 (£156,000) grant from the Lagos government, Kalakuta Museum opens. The Guardian shows a glimpse inside the museum and interviews Seun, Femi, musicians that performed with Fela, and many more.
Few musicians have ever been as unstoppably creative as Miles Davis. He led the modal jazz and jazz fusion revolutions, pioneered several new postproduction techniques and laid the stylistic groundwork for many future genres, like hip-hop, trance and dubstep.
So when Davis’ creative peak ended, he had a better vantage than most in judging the next generation of music innovators. In his autobiography, published two years before his death, he named three artists as the future of music. They were Fela Kuti from Nigeria, the zouk group Kassav’ from the West Indies and Prince from the cosmos (actually Minneapolis). When Davis died in 1991, he couldn’t have known how his predictions would play out — but he was onto more than he realized:
Few artists have done more to fuse the artistic and the political in music than Nigeria’s Kuti. He pioneered the infectious rhythms of afrobeat style, still wildly popular across Africa and many communities in the United States, and imbued them with a sense of tremendous political urgency.
“The political part was very essential in the music all the time,” Kuti’s son and legend in his own right, Femi Kuti, told Public Radio International in 2014. “He couldn’t understand the love songs in Africa, with so much poverty and suffering.”
Fela Kuti filled his sets with tirades against his government’s inefficiency, and he was imprisoned numerous times for standing up to authorities. Zombie, one of his popular and controversial records, characterized the Nigerian military as the walking undead terrorizing the people and provoked the Nigerian government to raid his compound.
Though he died of AIDS virus in 1997, Kuti and his wildly anachronistic music live on as symbols of resistance. “It is no exaggeration to say that Fela’s memory will always symbolise the spirit of truth for a vast number of struggling people in Africa and beyond,” wrote Lindsay Barrett, an African-based writer in the 1998 obituary for the artist.