Jul 28, 2009

Fela Kuti - The Father of Afrobeat

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, previously Ransome-Kuti, was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1938. His family belonged to the Egba branch of the Yoruba tribe. His father, like his grandfather, was a minister of the Protestant church, and director of the local grammar school. His mother was a teacher, but later became a politician of considerable influence.

As a teenager, Fela would run for miles to attend traditional celebrations in the area, already feeling that the authentic African culture of his ancestors ought to be preserved. His parents sent him to London in 1958, but rather than study medicine like his two brothers and his sister, Fela chose to register in the Trinity School of Music, where he was to spend the next five years. While still a student, he married a Nigerian girl called Remi and had three children. In his spare time, Fela played in a highlife band called Koola Lobitos with other Nigerian musicians living in London. Among these was J.K. Bremah, who had previously influenced Fela by introducing him to African music circles in Lagos at a time when Western music predominated there.

Fela returned to the Nigerian capital in 1963, three years after independence. Soon after, he was playing highlife and jazz, fronting the band with those of the musicians who had come back from England. Over the next few years, they performed regularly in Lagos and then in 1969, in the midst of the Biafra war, Fela decided to take Koola Lobitos to the United States.

In Los Angeles, he changed the name of the group to Fela Ransome-Kuti and Nigeria 70. At the club where they were playing, he met an African-American girl, Sandra Isodore, who was a close friend to the Black Panthers. She introduced Fela to the philosophy and writings of Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver and other Black activists and thinkers, through which he was to become aware of the link existing between Black peoples all over the world. Through this insight, Fela also gained a clearer understanding of his mother’s fight for the rights of Africans under colonial rule in Nigeria, together with her support of the Pan Africanist doctrine expounded by Kwame Nkrumah, the Ghanaian Head of State, who had negotiated independence for his country with the British.

While in Los Angeles, Fela also found the inspiration he was seeking to create his own unique style of music, which he named Afro-Beat. Before leaving America, the band recorded some of these new songs.

Back home, Fela once again changed the name of the group, this time to Fela Ransome-Kuti &Africa 70. The L.A. recordings were released as a series of singles. This new African music was a great success in Lagos, and Fela was to open a club in the Empire Hotel, called the Afro-Shrine. At that time, he was still playing the trumpet, having not yet changed to the saxophone and piano. He started singing mostly in Pidgin English rather than Yoruban, so as to be understood all over Nigeria and in neighboring countries. In his songs, he depicted everyday social situations with which a large part of the African population was able to identify.
Young people from all over Nigeria flocked to hear his songs, which developed themes relating to Blackism and Africanism, encouraging a return to traditional African religions. Later he was to become satirical and sarcastic toward those in power, condemning both military and civilian regimes for their crimes of mismanagement, incompetence, theft, corruption and marginalization of the underprivileged.

In 1974, pursuing his dream of an alternative society, he built a fence around his house and declared it to be an independent state: The Kalakuta Republic. To the chagrin of the bourgeois section of Nigerian society, this act of defiance was soon to spread throughout the entire neighborhood as more and more people were inspired by Fela’s stance. The authorities remained vigilant, fearing their potential power of his ‘state within a state.’

On countless occasions, Fela was to suffer the consequences of his scathing denunciations with arrests, imprisonment and beatings at the hands of authorities. With each incarceration and violent confrontation with the powers that be, Fela became more outspoken, changing his family name from ‘Ransome’ to ‘Anikulapo’ (‘he who carries death in his pouch’). His notoriety spread and his records began to sell in the millions. The population of the Kalakuta Republic grew amidst mounting criticism, particularly of the young people, many of whom were still in their teens, who left their families to live there.

During the ‘Festival for Black Arts and Culture’ (FESTAC) held in Lagos in 1977, Fela sang Zombie, a satire against the military, which was to become enormously popular throughout Africa, bringing down the fury of the Nigerian army upon him and his followers. As Fela relates in Unknown Soldier, a thousand soldiers attacked the “Kalakuta Republic,” burning down his house and beating all of its occupants. The song tells that, during the course of this attack, his mother was thrown from a first floor window and later died from her injuries. Homeless and without his Shrine, which had also been destroyed along with the entire neighborhood, Fela and his group moved to the Crossroads Hotel.

A year later, Fela went to Accra to arrange a tour. Upon his return, to mark the first anniversary of the destruction of the Kalakuta Republic, Fela married twenty seven women in a collective ceremony, many of whom were his dancers and singers, giving them all the name Anikulapo-Kuti. After the wedding, the whole group set off for Accra (Ghana) where concerts had been planned. In a packed Accra stadium, as Fela played Zombie, riots broke out. The entire group was arrested and held for two days before being put on a plane bound for Lagos, banned from returning to Ghana.

Upon his return to Lagos, still with nowhere to live, Fela and his entire entourage squatted at the offices of Decca, where they remained for almost two months. Soon after, Fela was invited with the seventy member-strong Africa 70 to play at the Berlin Festival. After the show, almost all of the musicians ran away. Despite this catalogue of set-backs, Fela returned to Lagos determined to continue.

The King of Afro-beat and his Queens went to live in Ikeja, in J. K. Bremah’s housea new Kalakuta. There, Fela, more political than ever, went on to form his own part, “Movement of the People” (M.O.P.). He presented himself as a Presidential candidate in the 1979 elections that would return the country to civilian rule. His candidature was refused. Four years later, at the next elections, Fela once more stood for President, but was prevented from campaigning by the police, who again rampaged through his house, imprisoning and beating Fela and many of his followers.

Any further Presidential aspirations were crushed, however, when a coup brought Nigeria back to military rule. In 1984, with General Buhari in power, Fela served twenty months of a five year prison sentence on trumped-up currency charges. He was only released when, under General Babangida, the judge confessed to having sentenced him with such severity because of pressure from the previous regime. The judge was dismissed from office and Fela was given his liberty.

Over the next decade, with an entourage of up to eighty people, now called Egypt 80, Fela made several visits to Europe and the United States. These tours were to receive tremendous public and critical acclaim, and made an important contribution to the worldwide popular acceptance of African rhythms and culture. Considering himself to be the spiritual son of Kwame Nkrumah, the renowned Pan Africanist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a virulent critic of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

Over the past twenty years, he became famous as a spokesman for the great mass of people, in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa and the African diaspora, disenchanted with the period of post-independence.

Fela’s sad death in August 1997 was mourned by the nation. Even those who did not agree with him were among the million people or more who attended his funeral. Even the many governmental letters of condolence sent to his family were eloquent testimonials to a great man. His death was attributed to an AIDS-related heart failure, though a more popular diagnosis was that, as a result of the countless beatings at the hands of the authorities, his system was sufficiently weakened to allow disease to enter.

Throughout his life, Fela was sustained by the unconditional love and respect offered to him by the millions of people whose lives he touched. In death, he retains the legendary status to which he was elevated by the throngs of people who came to pay their last respects at his laying in state in Tafa Balewa Square: ‘Adami Eda’ – (Chief Priest). “He will live forever!” By Jacqueline Grandchamp-Thiam (Paris) &-Rikki Stein (London) 1999. Courtesy of MCA Records.

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Obituary

"Fela was sweetperhaps not an adjective that would normally be used to describe this tornado of a man, but Fela was sweet to me. This sweetness that I perceived in him emanated from his love for humanityparticularly for those who had drawn life’s short straw.

Hundreds of people depended upon Fela for a living. Many more than he needed to run his Lagos club, The Shrine, or to play in his band. I saw him as a social engineer, concerned with issues of injustice, corruption, the abuses of power. He was ready to lay his life on the line in defense of such causes, which he did on countless occasions.

For his trouble he was beaten with rifle butts, endlessly harassed, imprisoned, vilified by the authorities, despised by bourgeois society (whose sons and daughters were captivated by him). His house was once burned to the ground by a thousand soldiers after they had raped and beaten his followers, thrown his mother and brother from a window, both of whom suffered fractures (his mother was ultimately to die from her injuries).

Each time they were to beat him, though, he always bounced back with a vengeance, stronger than ever. It is my view that the only thing that kept him alive, and the ultimate source of his strength, was the love the people had for him.

And his music – the rumble of thunder and the crack of lightning – layer upon layer of sublimely interwoven rhythm and melody, tangled in a delicious knot of divine inspiration. Deliberate conspiracies of hot brass woven around the intricately hypnotic consistency of bass and guitar lines, all driven by the dual forces of lavish percussion and Fela’s own passion for the precision of his musical vision. Heaven help any musician who might stray from his given task. Fury would descend upon him until, in mortal terror, he would struggle his way back into the groove. The icing on the cake of a Fela performance was his singers and dancersfabulous glittering unreal creatures from another world who would exude waves of sensuality and downright sexiness that you could cut with a knife.

All in all, thirty-something people on stage, each playing their part in what Fela called “the underground spiritual game.” In the center of the audio-visual feast for the senses, Fela reigned supreme. He was everywhere at onceplaying keyboards, soprano or alto sax, the occasional drum solo, a sinuous dance from one side of the stage to the other and then it was time to sing, the ever-present spliff held in his elegant fingers. No moon and toon and joon for this articulate firebrand. Only eloquent, biting poetic social observation, expressed with a breathtaking clarity and natural authority which placed him firmly in an unsurpassed realm in which he had no equal.

Perhaps Pavarotti can break a wine glass at sixty paces, maybe Bono can make girls wet their pants with a flick of his sweat laden hair, but for sheer master, panache, style and guts nobody could or can beat this guy. To get a bead on who he was, once he had recorded a song, he would never perform it again on stage, no matter how record company execs may plead.

Recently, however, he had ceased his endless harangue of politicians, big business, organized religion, the military, police, etc. (Once, when running for President of Nigeria, he proclaimed that his first act upon being elected would be to enroll the entire population in the police force. Then, he said, “Before a policeman could slap you, he would have to think twice because you’re a policeman, too.” The authorities ultimately refused to allow him to enter the race. Too bad.) He now saw politics as “a distraction,” saying that our only task was to enter into contact with our own spirit, without which “we would not survive.”

His last years were spent in spiritual contemplation. He never left the house, except twice a week to go to the Shrine to play. He wouldn’t arrive until two in the morning. There would be fifteen hundred people waiting for him and he would finish at dawn. And now he has gone. AIDS they said. As far as I’m concerned it was one beating too many which had weakened his body sufficiently to allow disease to enter. He was a giant of a man, but a man nevertheless. The system can only take so much. I went to his funeral.
A hundred and fifty thousand people or so gathered in Tafawa Balewa Square to pay their last respects. Bands played, people queued endlessly to file past his glass coffin. We then ran with the coffin to a hearse (there were still thirty thousand people queuing up) to make the 20 mile journey to the Shrine, where Fela’s children were to carry out a private ceremony for family and friends. In a cavalcade of vehicles we rode through Lagos City behind a band in the back of a pick-up truck playing Fela tunes. The road was thronged with tens of thousands of people, until we came to the brow of a hill. I looked down across the valley to the distant horizon. The road was filled with people from one side to the other and as far as the eye could see. A million people or more, and even more came as we passed through each neighborhood. Seven hours to cover 20 miles and the band never dropped a note. As we came nearer to Ikeja, we began to worry. What would happen when we reached Pepple Street, a small side street in which The Shrine was situated. How, in fact would we reach The Shrine with a million people in front of us? Night fell as we drew near. We turned in to Pepple Street. There was hardly anyone there. One million or more people had decided that it was not appropriate for them to be there.
Fela was my friend for the past fifteen years. Our fourteen year working relationship had grown from that friendship. I regret his passing but celebrate his life. He will live forever through the incredible legacy of more than 50 albums of music which he has left up and through the love and respect of the millions of people who knew him, from near or far. He was finally laid to rest in front of his house, Kalakuta, in Ikeja on the morning of Tuesday, August 12, 1997. His son, Femi, played a plaintive sax solo. A gentle rain felllike perfume. By Rikki Stein.

Fela Kuti - 'He was in a godlike state' ... an article!

'He was in a godlike state'

Fela Kuti was idolised as a rebel and martyr in Nigeria - yet in the west, we know him only for his Afrobeat music and his 27 wives. Alex Hannaford reports from Lagos on Fela's true legacy.

You would be forgiven for driving right past the white three-storey building in a shabby Lagos back-street. But this nondescript house, with its balconies and roof terrace, was once at the heart of one of the biggest musical movements Africa has ever seen. The Kalakuta Republic, as it's known, is the commune that once belonged to the Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti.
Here, unlike elsewhere in Africa's most populous country, young men give the single-fisted black power salute as you drive past, rather than a wave of the hand. As we pull up outside Kalakuta, a rat scurries down an open sewer and a bare-chested security guard opens a large iron gate into the compound.

Fela Kuti was the mouthpiece of Nigerian counterculture in the 1970s. He developed a style of music known as Afrobeat - an amalgamation of Yoruba rhythms, Ghanaian Highlife, jazz, American funk and pidgin English. Fela loved getting up the nose of the authorities. He married 27 women in one day, publicly smoked marijuana despite the threat of prison, declared Kalakuta an independent state, and was often beaten up and imprisoned. August 2 marks the 10th anniversary of his death from an Aids-related illness, and he remains one of the most influential musicians to emerge from the continent.

Kalakuta is now home to two of Fela's children, Seun and Kunle. The entrance is via a side door, but to get to it you have to pass a large marble plinth. Fela is buried beneath it, and well-wishers still arrive daily to pay their respects. An estimated 1 million people turned up on the day of his funeral in 1997.

Our taxi driver, Omo, had been smiling as he approached Kalakuta. "If 80% of Nigerians understood what Fela was saying, our country would understand that our leaders are failing us," he told me.

Kalakuta has hardly changed over the past decade. The herbal aroma hits you as you walk in. There are people everywhere - coming out of doorways, sitting on mattresses, chatting, hanging out on the roof. Fela's bedroom has been left untouched since the day he died. The door is locked, and only his children are allowed inside. The only visible evidence that this is a living museum is a cabinet containing 40 pairs of Fela's shoes - all handmade in various colours and fabrics.

In an empty room next door, Tunde Olayinka is sitting on an old mattress, staring out at the street. Olayinka was Fela's road manager and is still employed by Seun to work around the house.

He recounts the horrific story of the day in 1977 when soldiers under Olusegun Obasanjo's military regime stormed Fela's compound. Ironically, Fela and the recently retired president had grown up together in the town of Abeokuta, a few hours' drive from Lagos - Fela in a middle-class family, the son of a preacher, and Obasanjo in a poor farming family. Fela had released his record Zombie as a rebuke to the army, comparing them to robots, and his friends had burned an army motorcycle during one altercation. In retaliation, 1,000 of Obasanjo's soldiers surrounded Kalakuta.

"Fela didn't know what was happening," Olayinka recalls. "The soldiers began to climb the fence, then they started shooting. Fela was inside the house but he jumped out of his compound and ran to his friend's house. Then the soldiers threw Fela's mother out of the window."

Fela's mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was Nigeria's first feminist activist, and the first woman to drive a car in the country. She broke her hip in the fall and later died from her injuries. The original Kalakuta Republic was subsequently burned to the ground, but Fela's response was to move into a new house and place a coffin on its roof with a banner that read: "This is where justice was murdered."

Obasanjo was in the process of handing over to a civilian government and Fela was determined to give him a parting gift. He took the coffin from the roof and headed for the presidential residence at Dodan Barracks, driving through the back-streets of Lagos to avoid the roadblocks. Dumping the casket at the gates, he made his point, and was beaten for his efforts. His song Coffin for Head of State chronicles the events that day:

Den steal all the money
Dem kill many students
Dem burn many houses
Dem burn my house too
And killed my mama
So I carry the coffin

It's not clear whether Fela's mother's body was inside the casket.

Fela's children insist their father was misunderstood in the west - that the focus was on the man with 27 wives who antagonised the establishment, and there was never any real effort to understand the culture and politics of the country that gave birth to him, or what motivated him. Arguably, to really do that, you have to go to Lagos and immerse yourself in a city that is at once exciting, edgy, humid, polluted, vibrant, friendly, rich and poor. With his fame abroad, Fela didn't have to stay and endure the corruption, power failures, violence and poverty. But he chose to.
Seun Kuti was just eight years old when he started playing music in his father's band, Egypt 80. Like his father, he went on to study music in England (Fela at Trinity College, London, and Seun at the Liverpool Institute). After graduating, Seun didn't even wait around to collect his certificate. Egypt 80 had been left without a singer following Fela's death, and Seun felt a duty to fill the gap.

Unlike the rest of the Kalakuta house, Seun's room is air-conditioned and full of musical equipment, as well as a laptop computer. "Towards the end of my father's life, he was in a godlike state," Seun says. "For a man to get to that position in his life takes a lot of discipline. He was a man of so much knowledge because he had been through so much.

"The people of Nigeria are very gullible. We wait for God. Our leaders are all Christian or Muslim, but my father was a traditionalist who smoked weed. So they burned his home and took everything he had. They called his women prostitutes, so he decided to marry them."
Fela believed in polygamy, but marrying 27 women wasn't some kind of sexual sideshow, as is often assumed in the west. Women had few rights in Nigeria at the time, and marrying them gave them civil liberties. In a way, he was emancipating them.

"He thought that everybody should be equal," Seun says with a nod. "He opened our gates 24 hours a day; sometimes we had 300 people staying in our compound."

Occasionally, there's an echo of Fela's firebrand temperament in Seun. "They say Nigeria is getting better because they're printing new bills. But they're not making jobs for anyone to earn money," he says. "My vision is to lead Nigeria. I want to be president. But it's a dream. If I don't do that, I want there to be a lot more me's who will question everything. We need something new in this country."

Seun's political aspirations mirror his father's more concrete attempts. Fela used to give lectures at universities all over Nigeria, and attempted to register his political party, MOP (Movement of the People), but was thwarted by a government who believed (accurately, as it turned out) that he wanted to cause an uprising.

"I don't blame anybody for my father's death," Seun says. "Everything happens for a reason. His time had come. But Fela reminds me of how a man is supposed to be. He did what he wanted. My dad was the truth."

Around the corner from the Kalakuta house is the New Afrika Shrine, set up in 2000 by another of Fela's sons, the musician Femi Kuti, as a monument to the original Shrine in which Fela played for two decades. It was Africa's most famous club before it was burned down by soldiers. Today, Fela's shirt hangs on a peg above a bust of his face, set into an ornamental marble waterfall at the side of the venue.

Yeni, Fela's oldest child, is sitting upstairs, somewhere in the warren of rooms above the stage. "My father was a very charismatic person," she says. "For someone like me, it was easy to follow his ideology because, as a black person, he made me proud. Fela's father - my grandfather - was a pastor, but he was still a radical; he was very outspoken. And my great-grandfather was responsible for taking Christianity to Abeokuta [a city north of Lagos]. He used music to get people to believe, so in his way he was a radical as well. And my grandmother was an activist. So we come from a long line of revolutionaries.

"I would love my father to be remembered for his words and his music. He was a brilliant man. If only the government at that time had listened, I doubt that Nigeria would be where it is today. We would be ahead of all the other African countries. The things he used to sing about are 100 times worse now, and religion in Nigeria is an epidemic - it is 7km from here to my house and I have counted 58 churches. Who are the congregation? Poor people. But the vicar's suits cost $5,000 to $10,000.

"Fela would have been disillusioned with Nigeria today," she adds, "but not surprised."
Yeni's eyes stray towards the tiny TV on her dressing-room table. It shows Obasanjo handing over the presidency to Umaru Yar'Adua, and various senators and governors being sworn into office. Obasanjo's daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, is being sworn in as a senator in Ogun State. "How did she become a senator?" Yeni asks rhetorically, incredulous. "It's like Chelsea Clinton taking office because of her father. We Nigerians are gluttons for punishment."

Fela would probably have written a song about it. But even though he passed away 10 years ago, you get the impression that his legacy and his passions are still very much alive.


Fela Kuti - The founder and genius of Afrobeat music!

The big Fela

Polygamist, revolutionary and founder of Afrobeat: Fela Kuti was a protest singer like no other. On the eve of a steries of UK commemorations of the Nigerian star's life, Peter Culshaw recalls his memorable encounters with the Black President who had a liking for Handel.

PaulMcCartney found himself in Lagos in August 1972. The plan had been to record a new record - the record that became Band on the Run - at somewhere other than Abbey Road and EMI had offered one of its studios in Rio de Janeiro or Peking. Instead, the former Beatle insisted on the Nigerian capital, picturing himself 'lying on the beach all day doing nothing and recording at night'.

As he drily noted later, 'it didn't turn out quite like that', what with being held up at knife point, the lepers in the streets, the omnipresent military, the corruption and the lack of security. Still, Lagos had its attractions. Chief among these was the chance to check out Fela Ransome-Kuti's band - 'the best band I've ever seen live...When Fela and his band eventually began to play, after a long, crazy build-up, I just couldn't stop weeping with joy. It was a very moving experience.'Thrilled by his experience, McCartney thought of recording with some of the musicians working with the extraordinary 33-year-old firebrand. When Fela caught wind of the plan he denounced McCartney from the stage of his club and then arrived unannounced at the studio to berate him for 'stealing black man's music'.

As McCartney said at the time: 'We were gonna use African musicians, but when we were told we were about to pinch the music we thought, "Well, up to you, we'll do it ourselves." Fela thought we were stealing black African music, the Lagos sound. So I had to say, "Do us a favour, Fela, we do OK. We're all right as it is. We sell a couple of records here and there."

'I thought my visit would, if anything, help them, because it would draw attention to Lagos and people would say, "Oh, by the way, what's the music down there like?" and I'd say it was unbelievable. It is unbelievable...it's incredible music down there. I think it will come to the fore.'The incident caused a brief storm in Lagos, and illustrates Fela's fearlessness, his love of controversy and an unerring ability to piss on his own parade. When Motown wanted to set up an African label in the early 1980s, it offered Fela a million-dollar deal. This despite his insistence at the time of recording radio-hostile 60-minute songs, and never playing old material, so that live audiences would never hear his hits.

Rikki Stein, one of his then managers, was hugely excited and flew to Lagos to discuss the deal. Stein says that Fela's response was to contact the spirits via his personal magician, Professor Hindu. The spirits refused to let him sign for another two years and Fela further insisted on only leasing his back catalogue. 'Even then, Motown went along with it. But after two years, in April 1985, the very month that Fela was about to sign, the Motown guy got sacked and the deal was off,' says Stein. 'Maybe the spirits knew something.'

Certainly, Fela Kuti was the ultimate rebel, a spiritualist , pan-African revolutionary and a prodigious dope smoker and polygamist. Harassed, beaten and tortured by the authorities, he was a dancer, a saxophonist and a composer. He called himself 'Abami Edo', the strange one, the weird one. He dropped the Ransome part of his name - asking 'Do I look like an Englishman?' - and changed his surname to Anikulapo ('one who carries death in the pouch'). He also billed himself as the Black President, the Chief of the Shrine. Seven years after his death, the mysteries surrounding him continue to unravel, and a season of events at the Barbican in London this autumn will celebrate his complex legacy as a new generation of musicians discovers his work.

In the 1970s, McCartney wasn't the only superstar to recognise Fela's musical innovations, the way in which he fused high-life and jazz with the rhythms of funk to create 'Afrobeat'. When James Brown toured Nigeria in 1970, bassist William 'Bootsy' Collins recalls, '[Fela] had a club in Lagos, and we came to the club and they were treating us like kings. We were telling them they're the funkiest cats we ever heard in our life. I mean, this is the James Brown band , but we were totally wiped out! That was one trip I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.'Tony Allen, Fela's drummer and a key architect of Afrobeat, claims that Brown sent his arranger, David Mathews, to check him out. 'He watches the movement of my legs and the movement of my hands, and he starts writing down... They picked a lot from Fela when they came to Nigeria. It's like both of them sort of influenced each other. Fela got influenced in America, James Brown got the influence in Africa.'

Fela's influence spread in all kinds of directions. Gilberto Gil, now the Minister of Culture in Brazil, says that meeting Fela in Lagos changed his life ('I felt like I was a tree replanted and able to flourish'). Brian Eno once told me that he owned more albums by Fela than by any other artist and that he listened to him 'over and over again'. Indeed, his one musical regret was that he never managed to produce a Fela record he had been known to lie awake at night dreaming of what such a record would sound like. It was another musician, Viv Albertine of the Slits, who first turned me on to Fela in the early Eighties and I too became obsessed with the man, puzzled as to why he wasn't one of the biggest stars in the world.

BORN ON 15 OCTOBER, 1938, OLUFELA Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was the fourth of five children in a middle-class family. His father, the Reverend Israel Ransome-Kuti, was the first president of the Nigerian Union Of Teachers his mother, Funmilayo, was a political activist and feminist, also known as the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car and as the recipient of a Lenin Peace Prize who travelled to Russia and China and met Chairman Mao. His grandfather, an Anglican pastor, who encouraged Fela from an early age, had been one of the first West Africans to have his music commercially recorded, including a series of hymns in Yoruba for EMI's Zonophone label made on a trip to London in 1925.

In 1958 Fela himself was sent to London - possibly to study medicine, though he enrolled at Trinity College of Music instead. For the next four years, he studied piano, composition and theory, and made a name on the R&B club scene with his jazz and highlife band, Koola Lobitos. In 1961, he married his first wife Remi, with whom he had a son, Femi. According to JK Braimah, a friend at the time, '[He] was a nice guy, a really beautiful guy. But as square as they come. He didn't smoke cigarettes, let alone grass. He was afraid to fuck! We had to take his prick by hand, hold it and put it in for him, I swear!'

In January 1984, when I first met Fela, at the Russell Hotel in Bloomsbury, central London, I asked him which musician he most respected. The answer was unexpected. 'Handel. George Frederick Handel.' I told him my father was a Handel freak and we discussed, amid the dope smoke, Dixit Dominus and the Concerto Grossi. Thinking about it, I decided a comparison wasn't improbable. In Fela's music there is the same mix of solidity and transcendence, and I thought I could detect echoes of the composer in Fela's organ lines. He told me he thought he was writing 'African classical music'.

'Western music is Bach, Handel and Schubert - it's good music, cleverly done - as a musician I can see that. Classical music gives musicians a kick. But African music gives everyone a kick. Once you get music with a beat, that is African music. 'Jazz was the beginning of rhythm music, which developed into rock and roll. But what the jazz musicians lost because they were so far from their homeland was the intricate rhythms of African music.' Can Europeans play African music, I asked? 'I tell you something. When I was in London 20 years ago the white boys couldn't dance, now they dance quite well.'

RETURNING TO LAGOS, FELA WORKED AS A trainee radio producer with Nigerian Broadcasting, and re-formed Koola Lobitos. But it was the band's first trip to the USA in 1969 that saw the sound really change, while Fela began a personal evolution, talking the language of revolution for the first time. Broke, depressed and working as an illegal immigrant now his visa had expired, he met Sandra Smith at one of the band's gigs at New York's Ambassador Hotel. She was a member of the Black Panther Party, the pair became lovers and she turned him on to Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X, persuading him to write 'conscious' lyrics.

Fela's band, now called Africa 70, came into its own back in Lagos - the hits started coming, Fela coined the term 'Afrobeat' and set up a kind of hippie commune in a large house. Upwards of 100 people lived there - the band, roadies and anyone involved with the nightclub Fela set up, originally called the Afro-Spot and then the Shrine. And Fela became a hero of the underclass. A typical swipe at the ruling elite was found on the song 'Gentleman', on which he ridiculed those who wore western fashions in Africa:

'Him put him socks him put him shoes, him put him pants him put him singlet, him put him trouser him put him shirt, him put him tie, him put him coat, him cover over all with him hat him go sweat all over, him go faint right down, him go smell like shit. 'The authorities responded by sending the army to arrest Fela, razing his home almost to the ground. Fela promptly recorded a track titled after the Lagos prison ('Alagbon Close'), spoofing the authorities.
When I walked into Fela's hotel room on that cold January afternoon, the self-styled Black President, The One Who Emanates Greatness, Carries Death In His Quiver and Cannot Be Killed By Human Entity was wearing just a pair of red underpants, smoking a cigar-sized spliff and watching a B-movie. The 22-year old Femi was there too along with three wives and Professor Hindu (aka a Ghanaian called Kwaku Addaie).

At a show at London's Town and Country Club that week, the Professor, to the bafflement of a sceptical audience, had cut his own tongue, magicked watches and clothes from nowhere and asked for a volunteer from the audience whose throat he seemed to cut before burying him outside the venue in a grave he had dug earlier. Two days later 200 people witnessed the volunteer's disinterment he explained that being buried makes people extremely horny and propositioned the music journalist Vivien Goldman, pleading: 'I have money. Plenty money' and waving a hotel key.

'Everything was going against me,' Fela said of Hindu. 'Since I met him four years ago, I've seen so much spiritual light.' Fela said Hindu knows the past and the future, and he used him to talk to his dead mother each night.

I had come to know Fela through records such as 'Algabon Close' and 'Zombie'. You could make a case for 1976's most revolutionary record being not 'Anarchy In The UK' but this second, perfectly conceived slice of pop subversion, with its killer groove sounding like no one else, thunderous brass with wonderful trumpet from Lester Bowie and lyrics in pidgin English attacking the mindlessness of the Nigerian military ('Zombie no go turn unless you tell am to turn/Zombie no go think unless you tell to think...').

Fela's robotic stage moves had been copied by protesters in riots against the government he was banned from Ghana for being 'liable to cause a breach of the peace' and this song provoked an attack on his new commune, named by Fela the Kalakuta ('Rascal') Republic. Indeed, Fela had declared independence from the repressive Nigerian state. On 18 February 1977, more than 1,000 armed soldiers surrounded the compound, set fire to the generator, and brutalised the occupants. Fela alleged he was dragged by his genitals from the main house, beaten, and only escaped death following the intervention of a commanding officer. Many women were raped and the 78-year-old Funmilayo was thrown through a window. She subsequently died.

Fela kept up the polemic, delivering his mother's coffin to the army barracks and writing the song 'Coffin for Head of State' . One of his masterpieces, 'Unknown Soldier', followed an official inquiry that claimed the commune was destroyed by 'an exasperated and unknown soldier'.
According to John Collins, who knew Fela in the 1970s and is the author of Fela: Africa's Musical Warrior , published next month: 'In his songs [Fela] went much further than the usual round-up of protest singers such as Bob Dylan, James Brown or Bob Marley. Fela's songs not only protested against various forms of injustice but often fiercely attacked specific agencies and members of the Nigerian government.' His targets even included the US multinational International Telephones and TeleCommunications, on 'International Thief Thief (ITT)'.In 1978, Fela had set up an organisation called Movement For The People and said he wanted to run for president but the authorities kept him off the ballot by various legal stratagems. I asked him, when we met, if he thought he could ever be president of Nigeria. 'Spiritually speaking, every human being has a destiny and a duty to perform,' he said. 'No African has ever seen anything like me - they see me sticking to my guns through all the violence.

'In the last military regime I was the only one to speak out against the government and the army. Anything could happen in Nigeria. If they get to the point that everyone trying to rule the place isn't making any headway they might drop their guard and ask, "Fela, do you want to rule us today?"' So what sort of regime would he run? 'It would be a cultural and spiritual revolution. Every individual would feel like a president - nothing would obstruct people getting what is due to them.'

THE FUMES IN THE ROOM WERE GETTING thick. I was trying not to look at his wives, nor seem that I was deliberately not looking at them. Also in 1978, to mark the anniversary of the pillage of Kalakuta, he married 27 of his dancers simultaneously. Fela claimed this was a traditional Yoruba ceremony, although some priests disputed this, pointing out that no bride prices were paid, and there is a suggestion that some sort of immigration scam was also involved. It was certainly a fabulous publicity stunt, although as DJ Rita Ray, who now runs a Fela-inspired club called Shrine in London, points out, 'Dancers weren't held in high esteem, so his argument was that he was making them respectable. He was wild, but very progressive.'In our meeting, I asked him about the importance of sex. 'Sex is one of the most important things in life, man. It's Christianity and Islam that have made sex immoral. People should be proud to say, "I had a fantastic fuck last night." When a minister in Britain has an affair he loses his job. If a minister in Africa fucks 400 women no one will even notice him, you know.'In songs such as 'Lady' and 'Mattress' the impression he gave was that women were inferior. 'I'm not saying that women should not be political leaders,' he said. 'Women can do what they want - but once she's married in Africa she can't do anything against her husband's will. If a woman doesn't like a man she should find another - that's why polygamy is so fantastic... An African man should not do anything called housework or cooking...' But, Fela, cooking can be fun, I persisted. 'I can cook, I had to as a student in London. But if I have a party and do cooking, people call me a 'Less Man'. I don't see why I should go against the cultural values of my people.'So what is the gay scene like in Lagos? 'I've seen a few boys behave like sissies, you know. I found they had gone to England and been corrupted. If you are gay in Africa no one must know about it - they will stone you to death, man.'

Fela claimed Aids was a 'white man's disease', but he caught the virus and died from complications on 2 August, 1997, at the age of 58. At the time we met, 12 of his 27 wives remained - he told me he employed a rota system to keep them satisfied - but following a 27-month jail sentence that began later that year (on a trumped up charge of currency smuggling) he divorced them all. 'Marriage brings jealousy and selfishnessness,' he was quoted as saying. His manager, Rikki Stein, maintains 'sex was where his inspiration came from, and considering the number of great albums he made... In the Eighties, on tour, I witnessed fur-wrapped beauties queuing up for their turn...'.

Fela's last song had been called 'C.S.A.S (Condom Scallywag and Scatter )', which described the use of condoms as 'un- African'. To the end, Fela refused to be tested to determine the cause of his weight loss and skin lesions. After much discussion among the family after his death, his brother, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, publicly disclosed the cause, paradoxically enabling, as one commentator put it, 'Aids awareness in Nigeria to leave the dark ages'. In that sense, Fela's death helped save a lot of lives, although it's impossible to know how many women he himself put in mortal danger by his wilful denial of his disease. Stein says 'one or two women in Fela's entourage became ill, though I don't know whether it had anything to do with Fela. All the rest are still going strong, as I understand it. They say it was Aids. I say that he died of one beating too many. He was a giant of a man, but a man nevertheless.' It might otherwise be observed that it was a wilful contrariness - the same impulse that always animated Fela - that ultimately killed him.

More than a million mourners filled the streets of Lagos. Towards the end of his life, as his energy waned, Fela was less involved with political crusades. Nonetheless, according to Femi Kuti: 'For two days, people didn't do any work in Lagos! This is the first time in the history of Lagos they have not had a complaint of robbery, rape or anything. Because all the robbers, the bad boys, they loved him, you know? Everybody was busy at the funeral.'

One irony is that Fela, if anything, is more popular world-wide than when he was alive - his music is sampled by producers like Timbaland (on Missy Elliott's 'Watcha Gonna Do'), while Damon Albarn voted 'Zombie' the 'sexiest ever track' in a recent poll. In fact, the Blur singer is now working in Lagos on a project with Tony Allen.

And Femi Kuti carries the family torch with his own band, Positive Force, while another son, Seun - a recent graduate of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, the 'fame academy' endowed by Paul McCartney - fronts a version of Fela's old group Egypt 80.

I spoke to Seun on the day he was supposed to be at his graduation ceremony, where he would have met Sir Paul. Instead, Seun - who's anti-marriage, and pro-dope, rebellion and black consciousness - leapt on a plane to Lagos. He said he had better things to do.

Fela Kuti's biographer Michael Veal worried that 'Fela's message of African empowerment became increasingly intertwined with dominant racist stereotypes of the African as vulgar, intoxicated, primitive, hypersexualised and indigenous mystic.'

For the 20-year old Seun, his father 'was a gift, an inspiration to Africa there will never be another like him. But things in Nigeria are even worse now, and however hard it is to live up to his legacy, we have to carry on the fight for liberation and consciousness'. Both Positive Force and Egypt 80 will be appearing at the Barbican's Fela Kuti season.

Did Fela ever fail himself? It is not likely that he ever felt that way, he told me he was a fatalist. 'Even death doesn't worry me, man. When my mother died it was because she finished her time on earth. I know that when I die I'll see her again, so how can I fear death?' 'So what is this motherfucking world about? I believe there is a plan.... What I am experiencing today completely vindicates the African religions.... I will do my part... then I'll just go, man. Just go!'


Born Fela Ransome-Kuti (name changed to Fela Anikulapo Kuti, late 1960s) in 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria; son of Reverend Ransome-Kuti (father; a Protestant minister and educator) and Funmilayo (mother; a political activist); married 27 women in 1978 (later divorced all), including musical collaborator Sandra; children: six. Education: Attended Trinity College of Music, London, late 1950s-early 1960s.

One of Africa's most acclaimed musicians, Nigerian Fela Anikulapo Kuti is "a peculiar late-twentieth-century mix of shaman, politician, ombudsman, activist and musical genius," according to Gene Santoro in the Nation. Kuti, or Fela, as he is popularly called, writes and performs political protest songs that have won him a large following both at home and abroad, to the frequent chagrin of government authorities. His music--dubbed "Afro-Beat"--is an amalgam of American blues and jazz blended with African rhythms, while his pointed lyrics--in pidgin English and African--confront government corruption, multi-national corporations, and police brutality. Larry Birnbaum in Spin described the Fela sound as "chicken-scratch guitar, vamping organ, massed brass, female chorus, jazzy horn solos, layered drumming--and antiestablishment doggerel," calling it "hypnotically persuasive" and commenting that "Fela's insinuating baritone is a potent preacher's tool." In a career that has spanned four decades Fela has recorded over 50 albums and performs frequently in concert.
Fela is a flamboyant singer and musician and his concerts--many held at his Lagos nightclub, The Shrine--are lengthy and infectious. Fela belts out his driving songs, gyrating as he performs on saxophone or keyboards, directing his thunderous 27-member band, Egypt 80. "[His] songs, which usually ride sloganlike lyrics over a densely woven web of cross-rhythms, have titles like 'Beasts of No Nation' (which deals with the way various governments abet South African repression) and 'Just Like That' (a sneeringly witty list of Nigeria's current shortcomings)," noted Santoro. John Darnton wrote in the New York Times that one of Fela's most popular songs, "Upside Down," describes a traveler who finds an organized, well-planned world everywhere except in Africa, where there are villages, but no roads, land, but no food or housing. "These things are the daily lot of all Lagosians," Darnton noted. " When Fela sings this song, ... listeners nod their heads solemnly and look into their beers."

Fela's musical upbringing spanned three continents. Born and raised in Nigeria, he initially studied piano and percussion and, as a youth, led a school choir. In the late 1950s Fela moved to London--to study medicine, thought his middle-class parents--where he explored classical music and was exposed to American jazz artists Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. His music did not become political, however, until the late 1960s, when he visited the United States and was exposed to the black power movement. Influenced by the teachings of black activist leader Malcolm X, Fela began to realize the implications for Africa of white oppression, colonialism, Pan-Africanism--the unity of African nations--and revolution. His new-found political consciousness inspired him to adopt the middle name Anikulapo--"having control over death"--and change his band's name from Koola Lobitos to Afrika 70 (later Egypt 80). The young musician's work would never be the same; as quoted by Jon Pareles in the New York Times, Fela said, "The whole concept of my life changed in a political direction." Fela returned to Nigeria and began to write politically charged songs that rocked his country. Inspired by Pan-Africanism, he incorporated African instruments into his band, including Konga drums, klips sticks, and the sekere, a percussion instrument. "I'm playing deep African music," he said at the time, as Pareles noted. "The rhythm, the sounds, the tonality, the chord sequences, the individual effect of each instrument and each section of the band--I'm talking about a whole continent in my music." Fela's protest music became very popular among the ranks of Nigeria's unemployed, oppressed, and politically dissident. These groups remain a large part of his audience.

Fela's music and politics have made him a cult figure in Nigeria; he has run for the presidency twice. His openly confrontational messages have, however, repeatedly irked government authorities, who have found reason to jail Fela for a variety of offenses throughout his career. In 1977 official rancor turned violent when the Nigerian military--some say in response to Fela's album Zombie --leveled his imposing Lagos residence after Fela had declared it an independent republic. Before burning down the house--including Fela's recording equipment and master tapes--soldiers went on a rampage in which Fela's 82-year-old mother, a prominent women's rights activist, was hurled from a second-story window. She later died from her injuries and her son, in protest, dumped her coffin at the house of then-president General Olusegun Obasanjo. Although such incidents have rallied support for Fela, he is notorious for a lifestyle that has alienated many Nigerians; he unabashedly preaches the virtues of sex, polygamy, and drugs, in particular the use of marijuana as a creative stimulant. In 1978 Fela shocked his countrymen when he married his harem of 27 women (whom he later divorced), in protest he said, against the Westernization of African culture. His commune, the Kalakuta Republic--established to protest the military rule of Nigeria--was reportedly itself run like a dictatorship. According to the Times' s Darnton: "[Fela] ruled over the Kalakuta Republic with an iron hand, settling disputes by holding court and meting out sentences--cane lashings for men and a tin shed 'jail' for women in the backyard.... To some degree, these trappings of power account for his popularity among authority-conscious Nigerians." Spin' s Larry Birnbaum elaborated on Fela's excesses, reporting, "Stories abound of his setting fire to hotel rooms, ... firing penniless band members on overseas gigs, making interviewers cool their heels for days and then receiving them in his underwear...."

While Fela's politics and lifestyle are controversial, few quibble over the power of his music. In 1986--after the human rights organization Amnesty International helped free him from prison, where he had languished due to questionable currency-smuggling charges--Fela and Egypt 80 made their first tour of the United States, where their audience is limited but growing. He has influenced the work of reggae singer Jimmy Cliff and the Talking Heads' David Byrne. In 1991 he performed an epic gig at New York City's Apollo theater accompanied by 30 support players. As Fela becomes better known outside Nigeria he feels that his music will increasingly hold an international message. He told People' s Cathy Nolan: "America needs to hear some good sounds from Africa, man. The sanity of the world is going to be generated from Africa through art. Art itself is knowledge of the spiritual world. Art is information from higher forces, by those who are talented. I'm not jiving. I've been living with my art for 23 years. My music has never been a failure."


Fela Kuti - Yellow Fever


The entire mid-'70s found Fela Kuti and his Afrika 70 really honing in on their signature sound. Yellow Fever, released in 1976, sits right up there with No Agreement (1977) and Confusion (1975) both in terms of quality of the groove and Fela's tact in putting out his message. "Yellow Fever" opens with a couple of measures of guitar and bass interplay that sets up the standard funk-jazz vamp that will prod the entire length. The horn solos are reaching, explosive, and (though the word is overused) funky. Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker have some tough competition here, as these guys are unwielding in their voice. After eight minutes of instrumental eminence, Fela makes his own voice heard and gets to the meat of his product. The words speak of the strange practice of Africans lightening their skin -- this idea just doesn't jive with Fela's strong pan-African sentiments. As he gets progressively worked up, the choir responds to him exemplifying the idea and the vibe. Once Fela feels he's got his point across, he just lets the musicians have their fun until the end of this 15-minute rollick. An unbelievable and hard-hitting groove opens up "Na Poi" and slams in with absolute genius. This is actually another version of the same song from 1972. "Na Poi," banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Company due to its sexual content, makes one wonder -- what was really going on in the Kalakuta Republic (his walled-in residence)? The instrumentation of "Na Poi" that began as genius settles into the familiar and works itself out until, once again, Fela decides to get down and literally dirty. This is an entertaining piece, but it doesn't really hold up to the rest of his material.


1. Yellow Fever
2. Na Poi
3. Na Poi (Part 1&2)
4. You No Go Die... Unless

Jul 19, 2009

Mr Something Something & Ikwunga the Afrobeat Poet

On Deep Sleep, Mr Something Something return for a third outing in fine form. The spotlight on this album is on Ikwunga The Afrobeat Poet, who dominates vocal duties throughout the album. The match is a fantastic one, and very effective. Ikwunga offers a striking and dynamic vocal style to augment the bubbling Afrobeat grooves. His lyrics are also in line with Mr. Something Something’s social consciousness, as he addresses third world poverty, imperialism, and the pitfalls of modernity. The role of Mr Something Something vocalist Johan Hultqvist is diminished on this outing, but he shines in his limited backing function, offering a refreshing and smooth contrast to Ikwunga’s more stilted, vibrant poetry, particularly on “Di Bombs” and “You Are Beautiful”. While Ikwunga takes the spotlight, it is the music that is most noteworthy. In the past the band has seemed a bit too urgent in their delivery, but the musicians are firmly in pocket on Deep Sleep. The result is a beautifully rich sound, with impressive interplay between the players and tastefully restrained playing. There is no excessive soloing on Deep Sleep, and it is clear that the songs have been constructed with care and precision. With their third release, Mr Something Something make it clear that they are not interested in imitation, while constructing a firm case for themselves as Canada’s premiere Afrobeat band.


‘Deep Sleep’, the second album from the first afrobeat poet and originator of afrobeat poetry, Nigerian afrobeat poet (aka Abp) Ikwunga, is a collection of highly danceable tracks infused with a fine collection of African proverbs and words of wisdom delivered in Ikwunga’s original amalgamation of Pidgin and English, in rhyme. What’s exciting about this new album is that Abp Ikwunga has teamed up with the phenomenal Canadian Afrobeat collective Mr. Something Something. This would be a third album for Mr. Something Something, a highly electrifying and socially conscious band whose sophomore album “The Edge” was nominated for a 2007 JUNO Award for World Music Album of the Year.



01 D.N.D.A.b.p.
02 Di Bombs
03 Abankwa
04 You R Beautiful
05 Deep Sleep
06 D.N.D.A.b.p. (edit)
07 Di Bombs (edit)
08 Abankwa (edit)

Jul 15, 2009

Peter King - Shango


Peter King was born in 1938 in Enugu in the eastern region of Nigeria and grew up in Lokoja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. Both of his parents are from Ijagba in the then Western region of Nigeria, now Ose Local Government of Ondo State. King attended St Marys School Lokoja, St pauls School. Ebute Metta, Lagos and St marys school Port Harcourt. He attended Enitoncan College P.H from 1953 - 1956.

His first taste of music came at the age of six when he was taught to sing the tonic solfa by a Reveerand Father Daffey at St Marys , Lokoja. He later joined the school band playing the side drum. There was also the traditional family "Konkoma" band of which he was the leader.
Music proper started in 1957 with the Roy Chicago band Ibadan. King played the Maracaso before moving on to the Conga drum. He then moved on to the Easy Life band, also at Ibadan, there he started playing the double bass and later moved on to the drums. It was during this period when he started studying the Trumpet and Saxophone. He moved to Lagos in 1958 and joined Victor Olaya's band playing the alto sax. After this he moved on Charles Ewegwe's band, then to the Empire band and finally the E.C Arinze band. He was always learning on the job, trying to find his way, by trial and error, like the rest the musicians (including the band leader). He found there was no one in control, to tell the musicians what to do or how it should be done. He decided at the age of twenty three to go to England to study music.

The first year was spent at the Central School of Music followed by a year at Guild Hall School of Music and Drama. He spent the following year at London college of music before going to Trinity School of music where he studied for three years. He also did two summer holiday courses in Jazz arranging and composition in 1964 and 1965 at Boston's famous Berklee College of Music.
During his student days Peter King formed the outstanding "African Messengers" in England. This group of all black musicians played a fusion of Jazz and African music. They performed at festivals, Universities and Jazz clubs in England billed with the great and the good of the Jazz world such as Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Joe Harriot and many more. The African Messengers also served as backup band for many American acts like The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross who toured England without a band. The band recorded many 45 records, one of which "Highlife Piccadilly", a fusion of Highlife and Jazz became very popular enjoying a lot of radio air time. The band earned first prize as the best junior jazz band in England in 1964 and came 2nd in the final in Switzerland the same year.

King formed another band "The Blues Builders" and embarked on an extensive tour of Europe and Northern Africa. He came home to Nigeria in 1969 and formed "The Voice of Africa". They were based in Yaba along with Fela Kuti. The federal government asked King to tour the war front during the Nigerian Biafran war to entertain wounded soldiers. The tour lasted two months. He returned to London in 1971 and formed "Shango", they toured Europe, America and Japan. From 1975 - 1978 he recorded nine studio albums. During this period he was also director of music for the Keskidee Centre London. King also wrote music for several plays as well as television, works include Back Blast by Lindsay Barratt, Jericho by Jamal Ali, Tension Zone by T. Bone Wilson and Jorden Runt by Roly Carlten. King also did many recordings for Swedish television.Shango were one of the bands that represented Britain during Festac 77 in Nigeria. It was during this period in London when he approached to become the director of Boney M during there 1977 European tour.

In 1979 King and his family returned to Nigeria and formed the P.K band. With the band's performing a residency in the Museum Kitchen he concentrated on more TV recording, composing music for soap operas like Adio Family, Mobile Clinic and Images. He recorded two further albums in Nigeria and toured Togo in 1982, recording an album there the same year.

In 1982 he began his school of music in Maza Maza, Lagos.

The album

Composer and multi-instrumentalist is a seminal yet under-recognized artist on the Nigerian music scene of the 1970s. Though he recorded nine albums in Africa, the U.S., and U.K., Shango is the only one currently available. Recorded in 1974, King's Shango is a mixture of hard African rhythms, James Brown-styled funk, jazzed-up horn arrangements, and political messages. From the standpoint of the Lagos scene, the album is a classic of the period rivaling virtually anything that Fela or Tony Allen were putting across at the time. With King blowing deep-groove soul and out jazz saxophone solos above the chants, the music becomes a boiling pot of hip-shaking sexiness and rage. King being a formally trained musician outside of Nigeria (one of the schools he attended was the Berklee College of Music), his conception of harmony is revolutionary as he strides blues, R&B, soul, post-bop jazz, whole-tone variations, and counterpoint to edgily shift the focus of each tune on the set — note the sweet soul blowing on "Prisoner of Law" that becomes a big band extrapolation of seven shades in the key of C. The title track choogles along, burning underneath with a series of percussive contrapuntal moves that accent a bassline already fragmenting under the power of the groove, and "Freedom Dance" takes the Brown ethic of overdriven funked-up brass aesthetics into territory that reflects both Eastern repetitive chanting and the gospel shout and roll of Ray Charles. There isn't a weak second here, not a maudlin note. Everything here is so deeply blue it's the brightest black you've ever heard.



1. Shango

2. Prisoner Of Law

3. My Lonely Wolf

4. Freedom Dance

5. Go Go's Feast

6. Mystery Tour

7. Now I'm A Man

8. Watusi

Jul 14, 2009

Tony Allen`s New Disc "Secret Agent"

'Secret Agent’' is drummer Tony Allen’s first solo album since 2006’s ‘Lagos No Shaking’. In the 3 year interim he provided the beats for ‘The Good, The Bad and The Queen’ - what could be called a supergroup, featuring Damon Albarn and Paul Simonon. Whilst Allen’s beats provided a suitable underpinning for Albarn’s musings on London life for that project, it’s when playing straight-up Afrobeat that the drum maestro is at his best. On ‘Secret Agent’, his first album for the label World Circuit, he does just that.

In the 40 odd years since Allen and Fela Kuti birthed the Afrobeat sound there has been little need to change the formula and this album is not short of funky horns, recurring guitar licks and call and response vocals. It’s not just Afrobeat-by-numbers though, the inclusion of accordion on a couple of tracks works remarkably well and it’s not surprising to learn Allen’s excellent band hail from Cameroon, Martinique and France.

Perhaps most telling however is that there has been little need for change in the lyrical sentiment since Fela’s searing indictments of social and political wrongdoings in 1970’s Nigeria. ‘Pariwo’ (“shout, protest, make some noise”) criticises government oppression and ‘Elewon Po’ (“too many prisoners”) targets the (in)justice system. ‘Nina Lowo’ (“money is to be spent”) and ‘Atuwaba’ (“no matter if things are bad, they’ll get better”) are based on traditional proverbs and are written and sung by Orobiyi Adunni, one of several Nigerian vocalists on the album. Afrobeat has always been dance music though and ‘Ijo’ (“dance”) and ‘Alutere’ (“the message the drums transmit”) are straightforward party songs. That’s not to say the rest of the album won’t make you move however – this is music to dance to from start to finish.
If there’s one other thing that’s remained constant in the 40 years since he laid the blueprints with Fela, it’s that when it comes to Afrobeat, Tony Allen is the original and the best and ‘Secret Agent’ is certainly proof of this.


It’s business as usual and business, as usual, is pretty damn good.

‘Mr Afrobeat’ returns, this time on the world’s leading world music label. Like his last album Lagos No Shaking, this was recorded in Allen’s old stomping ground, Lagos, the sprawling Nigerian megacity he refers to as ‘a complete mother****** of a place’. And, just as on that record, Allen is joined by several local guest vocalists. It’s business as usual and business, as usual, is pretty damn good.

The title may well refer to Allen’s famously spectral presence on his own albums, so ubiquitous but unobtrusive that he’s almost invisible when he’s right there in front of you. Although he is Africa’s most famous drummer, you won’t hear any drum solos on Secret Agent. But his kit is a constant presence driving the vibe, the trademark double-kick drum motif of Afrobeat criss-crossing with ting-tinging ride cymbals, gasping hi-hats, shuffling snares and those deceptively simple rolls on the toms that conclude a typical Tony Allen bar.

Gratifyingly, he book-ends the album with two of his own casually murmured lead vocals – partly a by-product of having to sing and play at the same time for much of his solo career. There are five other lead singers, most obviously Oribiyi Adunni a.k.a. AYO, whose sometimes strident vocals bring a contemporary R&B/soul diva flavour to Ijo, Nina Lowo, Ayenlo and Atuwaba.

The other most notable vocal presence is King Odudu, sounding as if he could easily be a member of Fela Kuti’s family on the slinky Celebrate and Pariwo. Despite the relaxed vibe of the latter, its militant Broken English lyrics (“culture, not torture”) continue Kuti’s Afrobeat tradition of speaking out against injustice. And the same is true of the ‘blaxploitation’-flavoured Elewon Po, which finds Allen protesting that there are “Too many prisoners”.

Secret Agent boasts some very tasty licks from Cameroonian guitarist Claude Dibongue, and especially sublime horn arrangements by co-producer Fixi, who also tinkers with Rhodes, keyboards, synths, trombone and accordion in a couple of places. Although Tony Allen is approaching his 70th birthday, Afrobeat’s co-creator isn’t resting on his laurels.



1 Secret Agent
2 Ljo
3 Switch
4 Celebrate
5 Ayenlo
6 Busybody
7 Pariwo
8 Nina Lowo
9 Atuwaba
10 Alutere
11 Elewon Po

Jul 13, 2009

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra - Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1

Owing as much to James Brown and Tito Puente as to Fela Kuti, Antibalas, the multiracial 14-piece Brooklyn collective named after the Spanish word for "bulletproof," are far from straight Afro Beat revivalists. Instead, Liberation Afro Beat, Vol. 1 lays New York's rich musical heritage of jazz, funk, and Latin groove over Afro Beat's polyrhythms to spectacular effect, resulting in a raw selection of driving ghetto funk. Despite tracks being mostly instrumental and nearly 10 minutes long, the relentless onslaught of rasping horns, African chants, strutting bass, and frantic percussion mean there's nothing dull about these eight phenomenal tunes. The collection's explosive Afro/Latin/American collision may earmark it as a party album, but there is a deeper motivation to their music. Hear the cries of war in the tenor sax breaks of "Dirt & Blood" and "World War IV"'s denouncement of American foreign policy; Antibalas's unreserved '70s grooves come with unreserved passion and politics. With all the ingredients of the golden age of funk, Liberation Afro Beat, Vol. 1 is a modern classic that matches (beat for socially aware beat) the best the era had to offer.


Like America itself, Antibalas (Spanish for “Bulletproof” or “Anti-bullets”) is a vast and multi-ethnic superpower. This fourteen-plus musical collective is a tight union of Latinos, whites, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Africans who all call New York their home. Their music moves like a burning spear launched from the heart of Mother Africa to skewer the Big Apple with its funk. Every Friday night Antibalas brutalizes grateful New York audiences with AFRICALIA, a ferocious concert series touted as “America’s only live Afro-beat party.” In every way, the group pays homage to their source of inspiration, the Black President, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Their sound and message closely follow that of Fela, whose radical politics and electrifying Afro-beat shook world music and Nigerian politics until his death in 1997.

With missionary zeal, Antibalas play their asses off, doing everything they can on Liberation Afro Beat Volume 1 to draw the people into Fela’s African-born movement of political funksters. Their music sustains the blueprint Fela laid down, with lots of drums and percussion breaks, thick bass lines, funky rhythm guitar, throbbing Hammond organ, and catchy horn riffs, all interlocking in hypnotic polyrhythms.

While Fela lives on as the holy ghost hovering over their music, the spirits of other great ancestors also make their heavy presence felt. The deep funk energy of the JBs and Tower Of Power unmistakably permeate the grooves all over this record. Antibalas is able to project the mighty sounds of their musical elders by employing a vast arsenal of hard hitting horns and drums.

Despite their numbers, this big band of dedicated musicians are tightly integrated by conductor Martin C-Perna Antibalas, creating one powerful Afro Beat Orchestra that demonstrates why music is the weapon of the future. Like an insurrectionary force whose moment of truth has arrived, Antibalas is moving out of the shadows and into the light. Get ready to move.


Music is a political statement. This fact is inescapable. All forms of music, regardless of national origin or temporal placement, have in some way reflected the struggle and separation, the spaces in which artistic expression is allowed, as well as the spaces between those spaces, of the particular societies that bore them. In America, politics are mostly, if not entirely, about economics; oddly, we often make much of the emotional content of a particular piece of music, but rarely, especially in what is known as the "indie" community, examine its economic context.

Antibalas want to destroy capitalism. Really. They say so right in their liner notes: "Time to destroy capitalism before it destroys us." A holy imperative. And they have the beginnings of an army to back it up: fourteen people contributed musically to this record. Based out of Brooklyn, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra is a collective of like-minded revolutionaries bent on liberating minds from the bounds of a free-market economy through the performance of mostly instrumental funk in the tradition of Fela Kuti. Failing that, they hope to create a space beyond in which they and others are not held down by "corrupt institutions like governments, armies, and banks," and can start anew, cooperatively rather than competitively. As they state in the less Mumia-esque-than-Metaphysical Graffiti-ish spoken-word intro to the album closer, "World War IV," this struggle is just that: a war. Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1 is their first missile.

So where's the explosion? Certainly not in that ultimate track, recorded live at the Jazz Café in London. In an unexpected turn, both the live tracks on the record emphasize how much stronger Antibalas is in the studio. Thankfully, it's not the rhythm section that falters in performance situations (what would a funk band be without a rock-solid beat?), but the horns. While the brassists and reeders do manage to piece together some nice soloing when they're in the glass booth, they end up faltering mightily when playing out live, letting their lines trail off into unexciting sighs. Or, at least, that's what happened during the Jazz Café show. In any case, the live recordings are about the least explosive thing on Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1, which is a bit like saying sparklers are the least explosive things in a box full of caps.

The album begins with a noise that sounds a bit like a distant bomb going off; an organ enters, then screams, then a rhythm. And it's a very good rhythm, but not an explosive one; it does not fulfill the promise of the bomb-noise. The song itself, a nearly ten-minute workout titled "Si, Se Puede," goes a little somewhere, eventually, but not very far into that somewhere. There's a funky groove, that's true; there's some nice horn solos, yes; but is there any fire? The answer there would have to be a resounding maybe.

The truth is, for a band that makes so much noise about being political revolutionaries, they end up coming off, musically, rather boring. This is not to say that the music itself is tepid; played for a party full of open-minded friends, it would cause more than one head to bob. It's just that Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1 should be so much more than head-bobbing music. It should grab you by the heart and the loins, lift you out of your chair, and force you to fuck with the world. Songs like "N.E.S.T.A. (Never Ever Submit to Authority)" promise, in their titles, that kind of experience; in their execution, however, they become seven-minute exercises in Fela Kuti/James Brown worship. And these two artists, at their pinnacles, could achieve this kind of affective artistry by translating a type of music that was, in itself and its time, politically incendiary, into an even more radically politicized context. All Antibalas do is take the gestures of afro-funk and graft them onto the current political climate; in doing so, they end up speaking for no one.

Hip-hop is the music of the politically oppressed now; Jay-Z has more to say than Antibalas about the dangers of complacency in a corporate-ruled world, and he does it by acting as a case study. We can't forget, of course, that rap has its roots in funk, dating back to the first Kool Herc James Brown breakbeat; however, it would be truly something for a group like Antibalas to capture some of the emotional heat generated by hip-hop and "sample" it, integrating a real magma flow into their currently dormant volcanoes. Then maybe they could live up to their liner-note goals.

Antibalas is a band that, in their concept and through their words, makes you want to be revolutionized. There is so much promise, so much possibility in their music, and in music in general; they could not only make a statement about the world as it is, but also be a trigger-force for change. It's regrettable, then, that Antibalas do not fulfill this promise, nor take this possibility and turn it into a weapon. I really wanted them to.

— Jonny Pietin, January 16, 2001


1. Si, Se Puede
2. Dirt and Blood
3. Battle of the Species
4. N.E.S.T.A. (Never Ever Submit to Authority)
5. Musicawi Slit - (live)
6. Uprising
7. El Machete
8. World War IV - (live)

Segun Damisa And The Afro-Beat Crusaders - Nigeria Dey Cry

A child of Kalakuta, Segun started his musical apprenticeship as a percussion player at a very young age, when he joined Fela’s Kalakuta community in the late seventies. Spending most of his teenage and early adult life in Fela’s kalakuta no doubt left an indelible mark on his life and musical career. He left Fela’s commune for a brief stint with King Sunny Ade during the period the Juju music maestro recorded his highly popular “Sweet Banana” and “My Dear” albums in Nigeria. In 1986, Femi Kuti after quitting his father’s Egypt 80 band, decided to carve his own knish in the afrobeat world by creating the group Positive Force. Segun Damisa joined this group as a founding member, the beginning of a career that would span a decade and half.

While with Femi Kuti, Segun was opportune to play alongside musical names in the business and privileged to travel world-wide where he acquired the exposure that would serve as a propelling force at the creation of his group Alkebu-lan in 2001 after he quit Femi Kuti’s Positive Force, and later Afrobeat Crusaders – a group he put together after moving base to Bordeaux in France 2004. After a series of concerts in and out of Bordeaux including opening for the North American Afrobeat Orchestra Antibalas, Segun took his Afrobeat crusaders into studio to record a nine title album in February/March 2006. Recorded at Chris Birkett’s studio, the guitarist/producer also played guitar solo on two of the tracks. Also featured in the album is Soul Makossa impresario Manu Dibango who played his alto sax solo on the song AIDS. The album produced by the tenor sax player of the group, Pierre Henry Vulliard (aka Speedy) for Arts Sciences Information is due for release early 2007.



01. Gari Good
02. Nigeria
03. Aids
04. Suffer Dey
05. Eshere
06. Alakitijon
07. Lailo
08. Ajeje
09. Percussions Interlude

Jul 8, 2009

ALBINO! - Rhino

The SF Music Award-winning ALBINO! is a ten-piece Afrobeat ensemble that honors the fiery legacy of Nigerian musical revolutionary Fela Kuti. ALBINO's high-energy grooves and explosive stage show thick with hypnotic percussion, a heavy horn section, African dance, outrageous costumes, and infectious group choreography have firmly established the band as the West Coast's premier Afrobeat act.

According to the SF Weekly, "ALBINO's ass-inspiriting percussive engine comes from a rhythm section of local all-stars; together, they form rhythms based in the West African tradition which holds at its heart the inseparable union of drumming and dance. Atop the band's rhythmic maelstrom ride tightly figured five-part horn lines. The section's 'heavy heavy' bottom end features a snarling dual baritone-sax yawp. This is world music that lives up to the name."

The ALBINO combination of over-the-top live energy, tripped-out tribal stage garb, and the ability to envelop audiences in an irresistibly funky, loving embrace have made the band a favorite of festival crowds and the Burning Man community in particular. Beholding this 24-legged freaky behemoth as it locks into its choreographed steps is as much of a feast for the eyes as their deliciously layered funk is for the ears. On top of this, ALBINO's lyrical messages offer scathing sociopolitical commentary and urgent calls to civic action, in keeping with the revolutionary spirit central to Fela Kuti's Afrobeat legacy. The live ALBINO! experience simply never fails to *move* an audience, in every sense of the word.

frobeat is one of the boldest and most radical forms of protest music the world has ever heard. Afrobeat's original architect, Fela Kuti, was a revolutionary outlaw who used his music as a weapon to expose and assault the perpetrators of injustice in his native Nigeria and throughout Africa. His principal targets included Nigeria's corrupt military regime, the post-colonial aristocracy's repression of native cultures, and corporate greed and the exploitation of Africa's natural resources and working class. Fela's Afrobeat crusade for a free, democratic, socially equitable Africa spanned from the early seventies until his death from AIDS in 1997, when a "musical and sociopolitical voice on a par with Bob Marley was silenced." (-All Music Guide)

ALBINO! proudly embraces and extends the tradition of Afrobeat as protest music. We believe the current state of affairs in our nation and the world is dire and in desperate need of change. The message of our music, like Fela's Afrobeat, endeavors to expose contemporary injustice with the goal of inspiring critical thought and activism. We urge all members of the ALBINO! community to take action and make your voices heard. We encourage you to visit the following websites to learn more about Fela's Afrobeat legacy, and about the charitable causes ALBINO! has been involved with that are affecting positive change in your communities and around the world.



01. Democracy
02. Puppet Boy
03. Jing Bongwa
04. Mr. X (act Two)
05. No Go Sell
06. Feel Alright
07. Soldier Dont Speak
08. Mr. X (epilogue)
09. Deconstruction of the Transitional Movement

Ayetoro - The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol 2

Nigerian Afrobeat veteran Funsho Ogundipe has a brand new CD on the streets by his group Ayetoro. Titled “Ayetoro: Omo Obokun, The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol 2, Directions in Music By Funsho Ogundipe,” the recordings follow up Ogundipe’s four previous albums with some heavyweight jazz and afrobeat, along with an range of energetic, experimental post-bop and funk. This is an outstanding effort that I’ve really enjoyed listening to.

Funsho Ogundipe began playing piano at age 17 and was a regular at Fela Kuti’s club The Shrine. He performed with Fela in 1988 and formed Ayetoro in 1996 after a successful career in law and business.

For years I’ve thought that the Ayetoro track “Revenge of the Flying Monkeys” was on the short list of the greatest post-Fela afrobeat songs ever written—and that’s before you even consider the genius of the title, which has also inspired a blog of the same name about African politics and culture. “Revenge” is the anchor track of Ayetoro’s 2005, “The Afrobeat Chronicles, Vol 1,” and it also appears on the definitive anthology of modern Afrobeat, “Nu Afrobeat Experience.” Ogundipe reprises the track on the new CD in a newly arranged version that builds on the dynamic impact of the original.

The new CD bears the clear influence of Fela Kuti and classic Afrobeat, and it further extends the direction of the music towards jazz and experimental grooves. Ogundipe told the BBC that Miles Davis and Duke Ellington were his primary musical inspirations, along with Fela Kuti, and you can definitely hear the influence of some of the 1970s Miles electric groups, as well as Herbie Hancock’s solo work of the same era. Duke Ellington’s imprint is reflected in Ogundipe’s thoughtful arrangements and broad range of tonal interests.

Tracks like "Pepple Street Blues," "Highlife No. 2" and "Song For Jenny" establish stripped-down afrobeat and funk as the core of Ogundipe’s music. They are anchored by rock-solid bass lines, active percussion and clever sax phrasing, and the songs get your attention with complex and often unexpected interaction between parts.

On other tracks such as "Two In One (Les Ibeji)" and "Omo Obokun," Ogundipe presents engaging songs which are more free form sonic landscapes than afrobeat, tunes that might be at home on an album by John Zorn’s Masada project. “Open Your Eyes…And Your Ears” also challenges listeners with some very funky post-bop jazz horn and keyboards over a deep, dub-inflected bass line. This is great stuff.



01. Pepple Street Blues
02. Two in One (les Ibeji)
03. Oga!
04. Open Your Eyes ...and Your Ears Too!
05. Revenge of the Flying Monkeys Part 2
06. Afrobeat.com
07. Mr Xyz
08. Labe Igi Orombo
09. Highlife No 2
10. Omo Obokun
11. Song For Jenny

Jul 3, 2009

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - The Vodoun Effect: 1972-1975

The name of the band - the question:
"It may seem like a stupid question but can I just confirm that Orchestre Poly-rythmo De Cotonou are the same band as TP Orchestre Poly-Rythmo whose music appeared on the excellent album 'The Kings of Benin Urban Groove' released on Soundway Records a couple of years ago."

The name of the band - the answer:
"Its the same band. The TP stands for "Tout Puissant". That was added to the bands name in the late 70s when they started playing soukous/rumba oriented music. I prefere the original name which ich Orcheste Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey to be exact. I left Dahomey out...too long and too confusing!!"


Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou is arguably West Africa’s best-kept secret. Their output, both in quantity and quality, was astonishing. During several trips to Benin, Samy Ben Redjeb managed to collect roughly 500 songs which Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou had recorded between 1970 and 1983. With so much material to choose from Samy decided to split it into Volume 1 and 2.

While Volume 2 will be material the band recorded under an exclusive contract with the label Albarika Store, the band also “secretly” recorded with an array of smaller labels based around Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, and Porto Novo, the capital city of Benin Republic. It is those tracks (all officially licensed) that are presented here on Volume 1.The producers of those labels were genuine music enthusiasts, some of them, ran these labels as a part time occupation, with very limited budgets. They couldn’t afford high-quality recordings - all they had to work with was a Nagra (a Swiss made reel-to-reel recorder) and a sound engineer - courtesy of the national radio station. These sessions were recorded in private homes using just one or two microphones.

The cultural and spiritual riches of traditional Beninese music had an immense impact on the sound of Benin’s modern music. Benin is the birthplace of Vodun (also Vodoun, or, as it is known in the West, Voodoo), a religion which involves the worship of some 250 sacred divinities. The rituals used to pay tributes to those divinities are always backed by music. The majority of the complex poly-rhythms of the vodun are still more or less secret and difficult to decipher, even for an accomplished musician. Anthropologists and ethnomusicologists agree that this religion constitutes the principal “cultural bridge” between Africa and all its Diasporas of the New World and in a reflection of the power and influence of these sounds many of the complex rhythms were to have a profound impact on the other side of the Atlantic on rhythms as popular as Blues, Jazz, Cuban and Brazilian music.

Two Vodun rhythms dominate the music of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Sato, an amazing, energetic rhythm performed using an immense vertical drum, and Sakpata, a rhythm dedicated to the divinity who protects people from smallpox. Both rhythms are represented here mixed in with Funk, Soul, Crazy organ sounds and Psychedelic guitar riffs. Bandleader Melome Clement explains: “Sato is a traditional rhythm derived from Vodun. It is used in Benin during annual rituals in memory of the dead; you can’t just play Sato at any given time. Sato is also the name of a drum which is used during the ceremonies. It’s huge: about 175 centimeters high. The drummers, armed with sticks, dance around it and hit it all at the same time. It’s very coordinated. The Sato drummers are backed by an orchestra of smaller drums and shakers. We also did some modern versions of a Vodun rhythm called Sakpata. ‘Mi Ni Non Kpo’ and ‘Houi Djein Na Da’ are Sakpatas, which in Fon means "god of the Earth".


Now comes The Vodoun Effect, a set that focuses entirely on Benin's Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, who recorded extensively over a thirteen-year period running from 1970 to 1983. The band blended James Brown's marathon funk jams with Benin's potent voodoo heritage, which was born in Benin and hugely influenced the polyrhythms from the area.

The Vodoun Effect is the first of two envisioned collections for the Orchestre. Though the eventual Volume 2 will reprise the group's recordings for Albarika Store—their official label—Volume 1 collects the numerous rare cuts they amassed between 1972 and 1975 as they secretly recorded for fly-by-night engineers. Many of these tracks originally came out in pressings of less than a thousand copies and weren't recorded under the most pristine conditions, but sound quality doesn't prove to be much of a deterrent here. Rather, what makes this collection so essential is just how good this bunch of musicians could be while recording off-the-cuff jams to help their studio friends make a little extra cash. This is fully-formed African soul music, rich and diverse, influenced in part by James Brown's African tours, but equally by Sato, a regional poly-rhythmic blend, and Sakpata, a rhythm associated with Vodoun that was used to protect people from smallpox. The band is as infectious as it is timeless.

Benin hasn't gotten as much attention as Nigeria in the excavations currently under way by labels like Soundway, Strut and Honest Jon's, but The Vodoun Effect proves that there is much to be learned from the country's musical heritage. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou is every bit as tight and funky as Africa 70 or Egypt 80, but with its own unique signatures, and fans of those groups will no doubt lap up every moment of this deeply fascinating incarnation of early club music.



01. Mi Homlan Dadalé
02. Assibavi
03. Se We Non Nan
04. Ako Ba Ho
05. Mi Ni Non Kpo
06. Se Tche We Djo Mon
07. Dis Moi La Verité
08. Nouessename
09. Iya Me Dji Ki Bi Ni
10. Akoue Tche We Gni Medjome
11. Nou De Ma Do Vo
12. Koutoulie
13. Kourougninda Wende
14. Mawa Mon Nou Mio