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
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.”