Felabration Boston with Federator No. 1 and Uhuru Afrika

Felabration Boston

Erich Ludwig of the local Afrobeat outfit Federator No. 1 talks with DigBoston about Fela Kuti, Afrobeat and Felabration and the upcoming event at Middle East Upstairs in Boston.

“Local Felabration! boosters say that their event is not only a tribute to Fela’s music, but also to his powerful political message. The Nigerian icon and activist’s art is known for serving as a voice against oppression and racial injustice in 1970s Africa, while rhythmically, he’s best known for developing the signature Afrobeat sound, a sophisticated yet accessible genre that blends traditional Yoruba flavor with jazz, funk, and soul…

There’s definitely a message [in Afrobeat] that people are drawn to that [which] focuses on racial disparities … That people understand that message consciously or subconsciously is an important part of why Afrobeat is facing a renaissance or revival …

Take Fela’s song “Gentleman,” for instance: what he’s saying here is, “When I’m facing struggle, I don’t have to be nice. I can stand up and speak. I can be angry.” In this moment that’s really relevant, talking and thinking about Black Lives Matter and white people getting bent out of shape about it. Fela’s music speaks to the reality that we are in the same situation we’ve been in for a long time and it’s OK for people to be angry. It’s OK for us to express these things.

Also, take the song “Zombie,” which is about soldiers mindlessly following orders. In Ferguson, we saw police in riot gear mindlessly following orders. It’s the same thing, the message is, “Wake up, you’re being zombie” … If we open our eyes, these examples are there.”

Read more HERE.