Hitmaker producer The-Dream — the man behind “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-sampling “Flawless,” “Run the World (Girls)” and many more — reveals in his Genius annotation of “End Of Time” that Beyonce recorded a 20-track Fela Kuti-inspired album right before 2011’s 4 LP. Read it at Okayafrica.
Topic: Fela’s Influence
Kendrick Lamar’s surprise 16-track release To Pimp A Butterfly samples Fela Kuti.
The full length’s sprawling closing track “Mortal Man” initially sparked our interest because of its several Nelson Mandela mentions throughout its hook (“The ghost of Mandela, hope my flows they propel it”) and verses (“You wanna love like Nelson, you wanna be like Nelson. You wanna walk in in his shoes but you peace-making seldom”). As a Rolling Stone article points out, “A 2014 trip to South Africa inspired Lamar to pen “Mortal Man,” a song that finds the rapper name-checking Moses, Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr… [and] weav[ing] in samples from a 1994 Tupac interview with Swedish journalist Mats Nileskär on the show P3 Soul.”
To Pimp A Butterfly‘s liner notes reveal that “Mortal Man” also samples Fela Kuti‘s 1975 “I No Get Eye for Back” off Alagbon Close. Kendrick’s track uses a pitched-down drum pattern from Fela’s original, as performed in a 1977 cover by South Carolina tenor saxophonist Houston Person.
The wingspan of Fela Kuti‘s influence transcends genres, borders and generations — through the years, we’ve seen shades of the afrobeat pioneer’s vision and aesthetic pop up in such varied areas as American hip-hop, political activism, underground music, dance clubs, human rights campaigns and plenty others.
Okayafrica is sharing testimonials from legendary and contemporary musicians speaking about the influence Fela’s music has had on their own work and life – including Brian Eno, Common, George Clinton, ?uestlove, Paul McCartney, and more. Watch them at Okayafrica.
Not too long ago Rich Medina proposed the idea of bringing two divinities together — Fela Kuti and The Beatles — resulting in the AfroBeatles music project. We’re not sure if Sir Paul is aware of the musical mashup, but we do now have a first hand account of what happens when two of history’s most important figures meet. In an EW video, Paul honors Fela’s 75th by sharing tales of what ensued when the Beatle touched down in Lagos. Highlights include Paul being accused of “coming to steal the black man’s music” by none other than the Black President himself, a visit to the Shrine, and Paul playing his favorite Fela riff (“Why Black Man Dey Suffer”). Watch the interview and check out these Fela x Beatles mashups at Okayafrica.
Prior to his performance at the Brecon Jazz Festival, Femi Kuti talked to Mark Hudson of The Telegraph.
‘I consider myself lucky to have survived,” says Femi Kuti of growing up in the household of his father, the late, great Fela Kuti. “I could have ended up on hard drugs or committed suicide. But I knew from the start I would have to work 10 times harder than anyone else.”
May 8, 2012…Coinciding with The Chicago Bulls‘ “win or go home” game tonight against Philly, Knitting Factory Records is celebrating the release of Fela Kuti‘s Live In Detroit 1986 today – the first new Fela material to be released since 1992, mastered from the bootleg recording of Fela Kuti & Egypt 80‘s performance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. Bulls’ center Joakim Noah grew up listening to Fela Kuti with his tennis star father, Yannick Noah, and his Cameroonian soccer champion grandfather Zacharie Noah. Above, Joakim talks about Fela’s audacity to speak the truth on behalf of his people, Tupac as a new generation’s Fela, the importance of knowing one’s roots, and how Obama sonned him.
Brian Eno will be working in London on Seun Kuti’s upcoming album. A music legend in his own right, Eno said “I think Seun is absolutely stunning. His father was a huge inspiration for me for many, many years.”