Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fela Kuti


Two short sides on an LP in the wrong sleeve I just discovered but has been in my collection for a long time. Fela seems to be going through a resurgeance now due to the West End stage show "Fela". Some typically danceable afrobeat here from 1970.

Wikipedia says -

"Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria into a middle-class family. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. His brothers, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, both medical doctors, are well known in Nigeria. Fela was a first cousin to the Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife. In 1960, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola). In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He played for some time with Victor Olaiya and his All Stars. In 1967, he went to Ghana to think up a new musical direction. That was when Kuti first called his music Afrobeat. In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States. While there, Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Izsadore)—a partisan of the Black Panther Party—which would heavily influence his music and political views and renamed the band Nigeria '70. Soon, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the U.S. without work permits. The band then performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as The '69 Los Angeles Sessions.

After Fela and his band returned to Nigeria, the band was renamed The Africa '70, as lyrical themes changed from love to social issues. He then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for many connected to the band that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state. Fela set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and then the Afrika Shrine, where he performed regularly. Fela also changed his middle name to Anikulapo (meaning "he who carries death in his pouch"), stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name. The recordings continued, and the music became more politically motivated.[citation needed] Fela's music became very popular among the Nigerian public and Africans in general. In fact, he made the decision to sing in Pidgin English so that his music could be enjoyed by individuals all over Africa, where the local languages spoken are very diverse and numerous. As popular as Fela's music had become in Nigeria and elsewhere, it was also very unpopular with the ruling government, and raids on the Kalakuta Republic were frequent."




Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit

Fela Kuti - Water Got No Enemy

3 comments:

Hobbes said...

Interesting. Wonder how his family felt about him. . . .

Sem Sinatra said...

Fela Kuti ... what a musician! Used to arrive at his club 2 hours after his band started playing and carried on playing until 7am every night. After that amount of practice, how could this be anything but sublime. This is superb music. I am just beginning my Fela Kuti journey, but this is up there with the best of what I've heard.

wastedpapiers said...

Thanks chaps. Always appreciate comments.