Friday, February 10, 2012
Fela Anikulapo Kuti - Black President (Arista - SPART 1167)
Fela Anikulapo Kuti or as more widely known with Fela Kuti is one of the most prominent artists to come from the Africa continent. He can be justly hailed as the Ravi Shankar of Africa since he has adopted the lively and colorful music of Africa to the norms of Western music that we are so much used to. The main difference is the understanding of what music is for. In Africa music had a dedicated notion in the society. These were mainly songs of celebration, child birth, harvest, rain etc with longer duration times while in Europe we are used to listen music mainly for pleasure with variations in durations based on genre.
Fela Kuti managed to combine both (Without limiting himself to our time schedule). His orchestras always consisted of Western and African instruments with musical notations ranging from one place to another during the performance of a song. His songs are also that of similar to another famous African artist Om Kalsoum (Even though Egyptians don't mainly call themselves African). One album generally consists of 2 tracks, one on each side. This album is a small exception with 3 tracks in total.
The music on the album is built on the exact foundations of the afrobeat genre that Fela Kuti has pioneered. Musical background is multi textured and these are extremely well jointed with each other. Considering that the band itself is close to 20 people with every instrument having a backup, the huge flow of melodies is fascinating. Paul McCartney's first reaction to Fela Kuti's performance wasn't much different either as he was taken aback by the sheer performance of this huge band and the liveliness of the total scene.
The words on the tracks are quite significant also since this is a known side of Fela Kuti. He was a die hard political activist who got himself into enough trouble to last for 3 generations. He stood up against fearsome rulers and movements. He stood up against unjust wealth distribution in Africa even though he himself was born into a family with strong financial positions. He denounced white people's under the surface type colonization and openly said that if Africa was left to it's rightful owners, every man would be a millionaire because of it's riches. He also believed in the riches of Africa in the case of women as at one point he had 27 wives. 4 of them were accompanying his band as vocals. I wonder how many children he has in reality since we only know of 2 in the musical scene, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti.
For whatever reasons he stood for, he always fought hard and directly with the oppressive regimes, unjustness, for things he thought wrong. He may not have changed everything the way he wanted in Africa, but as this album also shows, he paved himself a huge membership sign that says he is among the legends of ethnic music. He was the hope of Nigerian people as well as others during times of distress and we are just pure lucky that someone of his talent got up and protested using his main tool of music.
To buy this record:
@ Music Stack