Fela Kuti | 5 Tracks That You Probably Never Heard Of
Following our last feature on Marvin Gaye we share with you the music of Fela Kuti, an artist in the true sense of the word and someone we have desperately wanted to feature for some time. On Aug 2nd, 1997 the world lost one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A legend in his native Nigeria, Kuti’s impact has been felt all across the world. When listening to Fela’s tracks with their infectious grooves, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he lived a joyous life, but Listen closely and beneath the surface you’ll come to the tensions that dogged the Afrobeat inventor his whole life.
Born to a Nigerian pastor father and an anti-military mother, Kuti was shipped off to London in the early 60s with big plans for him to become a doctor. Ever contrary he enlisted at Trinity College, studying music and forming his first band, Koola Lobitos. They mixed traditional African high life with jazz music and a had groove like James Brown, but he was always more of a Miles Davis character: uncompromising, politically-charged and musically unstoppable. Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, his political consciousness inspired him to change what he called his ‘slave name’ Ransome and adopt the middle name Anikulapo meaning ‘to have control over death’.
Fela Kuti’s output is vast, over fifty albums. Over that duration he effectively created the Afro-beat genre, or as Brian Eno nicely put it, ‘Jazz from another planet.’ Long, long groove laden tracks are a preoccupation for Kuti’s music, infused with seamless soul and serious funk, and pieced together by languid, confident jazzy solos. He sings in both English and Nigerian, backed up with vocal choruses to heighten the naturally instinctive rhythm and groove of his music. One of the most prolific, mesmeric and stylistic musicians of our generation, never to receive the top accreditation he justly deserved.
Sorrow Tears & Blood