friday mixed tape: fela

by Hugh

I might be wrong, but I don’t think ever in the next couple of generations will we see someone like Fela Kuti, afrobeat legend, rebel, dissident, and one-time Nigerian Presidential candidate. Fela seemed to straddle the harsh present of the sixties/seventies, with something ancient … in a way that no one now would be able to do. With television everywhere these days, there are few if any corners of the world left where ancientness grows naturally – all of it has been touched by the modern. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m no expert in world culture (and, after all, Fela’s mother was a feminist activist, and his father a Protestant Minister); but regardless, no one making modern afrobeat comes close to this kind of raw power. I’m not sure that there is any musician in the world that has this kind of charisma – brutal, violent charisma, but undeniable (see the second vid, especially).

Fela died in 1997 of AIDS.

Fela Kuti: Army Arrangement
“I have death in my pouch. I can’t die. They cannot kill me.”

Fela Kuti: Live in Calabar
Not sure the title of the song. This footage was filmed for a movie by Cream drummer Ginger Baker (which I believe is the source for the previous clip too). This one is intense, check especially the dancing from about 4’00” and on.

Fela Kuti: U. Be Thief