Posts Tagged ‘fela kuti’
Certain things make up the memory of my childhood, usually weird, insignificant events and people — but one of the major things is the music my mother played on her shiny vinyl records in the living room. The music was often pulsing and often of Fela Kuti, or Jimmy Cliff, or maybe some funky Nigerian highlife. One man in particular, whom I heard at home, or at banquets or parties the African community in my Alabama hometown would hold, was the great King of Juju, King Sunny Ade.
He uses the talking drum, guitars, synthesizers and other random instruments in this melodious blend of poetic lyrics and kinetic rhythms. It’s funny now to see that trendy kid-friendly bands like Vampire Weekend claim inspiration from Ade, whose rousing but utterly traditional songs got everyone up dancing, or at least dancing in their chairs. He’s one of those living legends. Listen to “Samba” below:
An audio clip of the infamous “Zombie,” which ignited both a political and musical uprising:
My friend Daniel Hernandez inspired this post with a recent Facebook profile picture of his. Fela Anikulapo Kuti is technically the original Black President. The Nigerian founder of Afrobeat is my favorite musician of all time and, in my opinion, one of the greatest. He used to say that one day he’d become Nigerian’s president — which was probably not a bad idea — and thus the “Black President.”
Not just a wickedly inventive singer, lyricist, and trumpet/sax player, Kuti was also an activist at a time in Nigeria when activists were usually brutally squashed. After releasing the album “Zombie,” whick attacked the blindly obedient and corrupt Nigerian army, his home in Lagos was raided by the military and his 82-year old mother was thrown out of a window.
Kuti eventually died from HIV/AIDS in 1997.
But whenever I leave the airport and drive into the kinetic madness that is Lagos, surrounded by hustling people, intoxicating music and food, and the thrilling sensation of being unsafe and comfortable all at once, I’m reminded by his home that he’ll always be the First Black President.
A clip of his excellent “Gentleman,” an entertaining comment on Nigerian middle-classers wearing Western clothing in a tropical climate: