Over a decade after his death, vindication has come to Fela Kuti, Africa’s musical genius. AfroBeat, his gift to the world, is now an international staple on his own uncompromising terms, social content intact. Throughout his life, Fela contended that AfroBeat was a modern form of danceable, African classical music with an urgent message for the planet’s denizens. Created out of a cross-breeding of Funk, Jazz, Salsa and Calypso with Juju, Highlife and African percussive patterns, it was to him a political weapon. He refused to bow to the music industry’s preference for 3-minute tracks, nor did he buckle under entreaties to moderate his overwhelmingly political lyrics. He went down in 1997 still railing against the consumerist gimmicks that taint pop music, with the aim, he felt, of promoting and imposing homogeneous aesthetic standards worldwide, thereby inducing passivity....hear hear
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Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick.Hewas born into a middle-class family, his mother was a feminist active in the anti-colonial movement and his father a Protestant minister and school Principal. Fela went to to London in 1958 with the intention of studying medicine but decided to study music instead . He formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing Afrobeat ( his fusion of American Jazz and Funk with West African Highlife). In 61 he married his first wife 2 years later he was back in Nigeria. He re-formed Koola Lobitos and worked as a radio producer, in 69 whilst on tour with the band in the US , Fela connected with the black power/panther movement., this would impact his music and political views and Fela renamed the band "Nigeria 70". Once returned to Nigeria he changed it to Africa 70 , he then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio and a home for many connected to the band which he later declared independent from the Nigerian state.
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. In 1977 Fela and the Afrika 70 released the hit album Zombie, a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the "zombie" metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela's studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed.
Despite the massive setbacks, Fela was determined to come back. He formed his own political party, which he called "Movement of the People". In 1979 he put himself forward for President in Nigeria's first elections for more than a decade but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela created a new band called "Egypt 80" and continued to record albums and tour the country. In 1984 he was again attacked by the military government, who jailed him on a dubious charge of currency smuggling. His case was taken up by several human-rights groups, and after twenty months, he was released from prison, on his release he divorced his twelve remaining wives.
His album output slowed in the 1990s, and eventually he stopped releasing albums altogether. The battle against military corruption in Nigeria had taken it's toll. Rumors were also spreading that he was suffering from an illness, on August 3, 1997 his brother Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, stunned the nation by announcing Fela had died from an AIDS releated disease, more than a million people attended his funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound.
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Expensive Shit is the twelfth full-length album by Fela Ransome Kuti. It was ranked #78 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. The title of the album refers to an incident in which the Nigerian police tried to arrest Kuti by planting a joint on him. Kuti managed to eat the joint, prompting police to bring him into custody and wait for him to produce the excrement. According to legend he managed to use another inmate's feces and was eventually released. . It was ranked #78 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s."
1975's Expensive Shit is paired on this reissue with He Miss Road, another Kuti release from that same year. The album's centerpiece, lead-off and title track was undoubtedly one of the most influential tracks to the Afro-beat movement, and to artists like the Talking Heads, who experimented with similar tribal rhythms on Fear of Music and their landmark album, 1980's Remain in Light. Its complex, bongo- centric percussion is tempered with funk guitar, discordant piano, and brass eruptions. And when, six minutes into the semi-improvisational, instrumental jam, Kuti awakens with a yowl and begins his political rant, he changes music forever.
"Water No Get Enemy," Expensive Shit's second track, is more philosophical than political, postulating the motion of water as a metaphor for human interaction and the rhythms of society. The music is lighter-- almost poetic-- but no less moving. After these two extended, 10+-minute affairs come three more, in the form of Kuti's follow-up album, He Miss Road. It was produced by none other than Ginger Baker, who was a semi-regular jamming partner of Kuti's, as well as a close friend. And the tunes Kuti wrote for this platter are wild, cosmic, sexy as hell, and deeply saturated in funk à la James Brown. Lyrically, Kuti comments on people's stupidity; he mocks an incompetent lawyer for handing over his brief to the prosecution, and tells of a band that turns up at a colony for the blind and the deaf. After a squall of noise, a summery, psychedelic groove settles the mood until finally giving way to an ambient organ.
Fela's tenor saxophonist, Igo Chico, surpasses all his other performances on this disc during "Monday Morning in Lagos," which is up there with the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" for magical evocations of cities. Chico's glimmering lines perfectly represent the rays of the rising sun while Kuti's Yoruban vocals add the necessary otherworldliness to the track. The final cut, "It's No Promise," is pure Nigerian trance music. The longest track here; it's also the most abstract. It's held together by Tony Allen's drumming and the popping bass line by Franco Aboddi.
Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit + He Miss Road (75 now in flac 408mb)
01 - Expensive Shit (13:14)
02 - Water No Get Enemy (11:00)
03 - He Miss Road (10:47)
04 - Monday Morning in Lagos (11:15)
05 - It's No Possible (17:37)
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“Shuffering & Smiling Pts 1-2″ is one of Fela’s most recognizable songs. From the start, the interlocking guitars set the mood for the song with Fela’s improvisational keyboard lines gliding over the backdrop of guitar and percussion. The first ten minutes of the song is composed entirely of an instrumental backdrop with solos from different members of the ensemble interjecting throughout. Fela then begins the vocal section of the song with a request, “You Africans, please listen to me as Africans. You non-Africans, please listen with an open mind.” He then goes on to decry the double-standards and hypocrisies of organized religion, Islam and Christianity in particular, the two religions that have had the most widespread impact on Nigerian culture. He claims that religion causes people to suffer with a smile on their face, all the while believing they have a reward coming in their afterlife. He calls into question their beliefs by accusing them of blindly following the flock.
"Suffering and Smiling" is a slinky smooth masterpiece, with a great vocal performance and lyrics that decry the colonialization of Africans by the Christian and Muslim religions. It is perfect. The "No Agreement" album is harder and funkier, the title track's repititious James Brown-style groove is attacked with such blunt ferocity as to remind one of the late-70's "No Wave" movement. Jazz fans should note that the late, great Lester Bowie of the Art Ensemble of Chicago solos on No Agreement and Dog Eat Dog. Lester hung out with Fela for about six months back in the mid 70s, jamming with him and being treated as an honored guest, but as far as I know these are the only recordings they made together.
Fela Kuti - Shuffering and Shmiling + No Agreement (77 now in Flac 354mb)
01 Shuffering And Shmiling (pt 1 and 2) (21:34)
02 No Agreement (15:31)
03 Dog Eat Dog (15:33)
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