Oct 28, 2009

Fela Kuti - Articles about his death

Article 1

Fela: The Life & Times of controversial Afrobeat superstar

The African continent's most creative Afrobeat superstar, anti-military dictatorship activist, social maverick and pan-Africanist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has died of AIDS-related reasons and heart failure.

Fela's 58 years old, odd but very courageous engagement with life was as controversial, irreverent, creative as he was sometimes confusing to even his most ardent admirers. His social promiscuity and hyper-sexual relationships with women, mainly his retinue of dancers were, at once, revolting to many, as he was also an object of curiosity for all manner of people, Americans and Europeans, Africans and Arabs, men and women. He was a genius, albeit, for lack of a better word, a usefully mad genius, a creative iconoclast. Fela's genius as a musician had an unmatched stellar power, may be an acute acoustic verve and caustic provocations to the powers that be. The military in Nigeria feared only one man in Nigeria: Fela.

The African continent's most creative Afrobeat superstar, anti-military dictatorship activist, social maverick and pan-Africanist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has died of AIDS-related reasons and heart failure. "The immediate cause of death of Fela was heart failure but there were many complications arising from the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome,'' Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a medical doctor and Fela's older brother told a news conference in Lagos on Sunday August 3, 1997 announcing the death of a musical giant, social commentator and maestro.

Fela's 58 years old, odd but very courageous engagement with life was as controversial, irreverent, creative as he was sometimes confusing to even his most ardent admirers. His social promiscuity and hyper-sexual relationships with women, mainly his retinue of dancers were, at once, revolting to many, as he was also an object of curiosity for all manner of people, Americans and Europeans, Africans and Arabs, men and women. He was a genius, albeit, for lack of a better word, a usefully mad genius, a creative iconoclast. In my opinion, there was just one Fela; there has never been any like him in his country; there will really never be another like him. Fela's imprints on the sand of our social time are permanent. Although Fela's (ab)use of drugs (hemp) did not help his health and focus on the other things that were important. He could have been better. But to some, it was all part of his eccentricities, a part of his mystique as Fela Anikulapo Kuti! No.

The king of Afro-beat, the guru of strategic irreverence and pan Africanism, the master exponent of "Shakara" and the enchanting saxophonic rhythms and synthesizers which waft through his classic song "Lady" has joined his ancestors but his views on everyday, existential matters are relevent today across Africa. Fela, the king of socio-musical commentary is no more; one of the best jazzologists and creators of the most compelling and inimitable ethno-orchestra sessions of the 20th century is dead but his call that Africans get beyond "colonial mentality"and anit-corruption songs "Yellow Fever"
are entirely valid.

Coincidentally, a few hours after his death, I had the privileged of being the guest (with my wife) of creative events photographer Richard Dabon's at the Omni Hotel this August 3 weekend for the 1997 Houston Mayor's Jazz Brunch. Tunes reminiscent of Fela's saxophonic vitality and energies were played occasionally at the event. May be only a few persons at the Omni would have known the giant had passed. It all seemed like an unscheduled, unmentioned tribute to Fela-- with the likes of the very remarkable South African Jonathan Butler doing an incredible, elevating live jam session with the Houston Jazz Education All Stars. Fela would have been proud.

But is he proud of the country (Nigeria) he left, dying of AIDS-related complications? Does anyone really know what the statistic and measures to make Nigereians and other Africans safe from the AIDS virus? What will happen to the hundreds, yes, hundreds of women who made a different kind of (bed) sheet music" with Fela? Is jazz, especially Afro-jazz, today in the African continent, in Black America and the rest of the world better than when his likes put the genre on the globe?

Is his country, Nigeria, moving towards what he hoped for in his music and views? In fact, it must be asked did he contribute to the decay of the country's morals and direction by his multiple sexual devotions? Fela was no angel or saint, to be sure. But Fela's genius as a musician had an unmatched stellar power, may be an acute acoustic verve and caustic provocations to the powers that be.

His courage to speak his truth, his strong, unvarnished views to the face of power and "all dem oppressors" will be missed by millions of other Africans and people of the world. He remained a tower of guts, even while his pants were barely on!

According to USAfrica The Newspaper's correspondents in Lagos , the death of Fela has left a mournful pall over the country while soaring sales for his records/compact discs. A Lagosian, Adetiba Omowale told one of our reporters "this is the death of an original, an African original. Fela was unequalled." Ikenna Ibeneme said "he was the best. He had style and guts."

He died on Saturday August 2, 1997 after several weeks of illness at the age of 58. Fela resided in Ikeja, operated and played at a famous joint called "The Shrine." He has toured the U.S (including our city, Houston) and dozens of European cities.

Before his death, Fela refused treatment for his deteriorating health. He rejected both Western and traditional Nigerian medical services insisting it was on grounds of "principle." The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency led by Gen. Bamayi tried without success to stop him from using marijuana with threats of legal incarceration. After their efforts failed the NDLEA agents released (see USAfrica The Newspaper April 25 1997 edition)

Remarkably, and unusually too, Fela has not made major, if any, effort to challenge or criticize Nigeria's current military ruler Gen. Sani Abacha, despite the fact one of his brothers, Beko Ransome-Kuti, a democracy activist, is serving a prison sentence for involvement in an alleged "coup plot." Beko Ransome-Kuti turned his 57 the same Saturday Fela died. He is reportedly removed from news and radio access. He has also been actively opposed to military dictatorships in Nigeria.

Fela's social and political activism led to his forming a political party called Movement of the People (MOP) during Nigeria's militarily aborted attempt by civilians in 1978/79 and the early 1980s to establish a democratic government. Fela never shied away, until few years before his death, from stating his opposition to military men and ordinary soldiers whom he referred to, pejoratively, as "zombies". He paid for his vocal, and critical stance. Even his mother, a noted nationalist was a victim of military-police brutality.

Jailed presidential claimant Moshood K.O Abiola did not escape the lethal, no-holds-barred and bazooka-like biting attacks on Nigeria's ruling class from Fela. In fact he called Abiola "a Thief" while categorizing the ITT for which Abiola served its interests in Nigeria and the Middle East as nothing more than "International Thief, Thief." That was simply a tip of Fela's acerbic directness. His kinsman and now detained former head of state of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo did not escape his peppery barb.

Fela is dead, alright; but his music lives on. Long live Fela, Long Live the King of Afro-beat.

August 4, 1997

by Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfrica ONLINE

Article 2

Charismatic Fela put his passionate politics in the groove

It's impossible to find another recording artist with the precise combination of skills possessed by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the Nigerian singer and activist who died on Saturday of heart failure caused by AIDS.

The 58-year-old Fela, as he was known by fans worldwide, had the groove sense of James Brown, Prince's poised skills as an arranger, the articulate indignation of Pete Seeger, the galvanizing charisma of Bob Marley, and -- for a time -- the inescapable popularity of Bruce Springsteen at his peak.

He was a lover. At a ceremony in 1978, the performer -- whose favorite stage attire was a pair of bikini briefs -- married 27 women. He later divorced them, but retained a throng of female admirers.

He was also a fighter, who ran into trouble with a string of Nigerian regimes. In 1984, he was sentenced to five years in prison on what Amnesty International later called ``spurious'' charges of currency violations; he served two years, and was released when a new government came to power.

Most of all, the man who called himself ``the chief priest'' was one of the music world's most skilled agitators: His songs, which could stretch over an hour, were filled with passionate chants about military corruption and social inequality. Singing and shouting in pidgin English, a marijuana cigarette ever-present between his teeth, he conveyed both indignation and political awareness within a genre many outside of Africa had dismissed as mere dance music. Among his most famous rants:
"Teacher, Don't Teach Me No Nonsense,'' ``Black President'' and ``Coffin for Head of State.''

Accompanying Fela's antigovernment rhetoric was fierce, carefully polyrhythmic music unlike anything else from Africa. He called his blend of funk vamping, jazz improvisation and Nigerian high-life ``Afro-beat,'' and it was perfect for live performance. A brief sermon -- about, say, Nigeria's need for modernization -- would be followed by a forlorn blast from a horn section, or a high-intensity call-and-response between Fela and his battalion of backing singers. When he finished
singing, he turned his attention to the keyboard or the tenor saxophone, and crafted patient solos that took his large, interactive band down unlikely avenues.

The results were hypnotic. A typical Fela show was a marathon that could be appreciated on several levels: as incessantly funky party music, as a mix of overt and subversive political messages, and as a sophisticated improvisatory excursion.

Asked recently what was in his CD player, the artist and record producer Brian Eno said that he'd grown tired of most pop music. ``All I really find myself listening to are Fela's records. I have about 30 of them, more than any other artist.''

In fact, Fela recorded more than 50 albums. He played a key role in the spread of African pop music around the world, and served as a godfather to other well-known artists. "He is a legend,'' Malian singer Salif Keita told a reporter several years ago. "All modern African singers and musicians owe a lot to him.''

For us, he was a monument, a reference point,'' said singer Lokua Kanza of Congo. "To hear him was like a blast of fresh air.''

Fela was born in 1938 in Abeokuta, a Yoruba town in western Nigeria known as a haven for freed slaves. His father was a well-known priest and educator; his mother was an activist involved in Nigeria's quest for independence, which was realized in 1960.

Fela worked briefly for the government, but persuaded his parents to send him to London's Trinity College of Music. He formed his first band there, and upon returning to Nigeria in 1963, began playing jazz with little success. His concept for the politically charged Afro-beat came together in the late '60s, after he heard the Sierra Leonean singer Geraldo Pino and visited the United States, where he encountered the ideas of Malcolm X and others.

Afro-beat became a huge phenomenon in Nigeria, and by the mid '70s, Fela and his band, Afrika 70, were stars throughout Africa. Recordings spread their unique sound around the world: Between 1975 and 1977, the extra-large Afrika 70 (which later became Egypt 80) recorded 17 albums, including the classic No Agreement. Many were available, at least briefly, in the U.S.

As his popularity grew, Fela utilized his platform for ever-more-public antigovernment agitation. He opened a nightclub, the Shrine, and a commune, Kalakuta Republic, in a Lagos suburb. And in 1977, after he'd sung forcefully about civil liberties in what was becoming a military state, he got an official response: 1,000 government soldiers burned the compound to the ground.

Overnight, Fela became known as much for his politics as for his music; after military rule ended in 1979, he established his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People). In the early '80s, he responded to the rise of conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher with the blunt, threatening Beasts of No Nation. He was arrested in 1984 at the Lagos airport as he was preparing to leave for a U.S. tour. The charge: illegally exporting foreign currency. He served 18 months of a
five-year sentence.

Rumors about Fela's health began to circulate in 1995, and though he occasionally appeared at the Shrine, he no longer toured. In April, he was held by Nigeria's drug squad, which attempted to get him to renounce marijuana publicly. They eventually gave up and released him.

That probably didn't surprise Fela's fans or family -- which includes a brother, Beko Ransome-Kuti, currently in prison for his involvement in an alleged coup attempt, and another brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a former deputy director-general of the World Health Organization, who used the announcement of Fela's death to criticize the Nigerian government for not implementing effective AIDS-prevention programs. That was Fela: stubborn, committed to what he believed was a righteous
path, and blessed with the rare ability to translate that passion into intense, evangelical music.

By Tom Moon

Article 3

FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI ... Nigerian pop singer

LAGOS, Nigeria -- (AP) -- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a pop superstar who fused rock with African rhythms into a blend known as "Afrobeat'' and was a persistent critic of Nigeria's military regime, has died of AIDS, his family said Sunday. He was 58.

The singer's death Saturday was announced by his brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, in a statement broadcast on national television. No cause of death was given at the time. Throngs of stunned, tearful fans gathered outside Fela's nightclub, the Shrine, after hearing the news.

Ransome-Kuti, a doctor and former health minister, joined other family members at a news conference Sunday and confirmed that Fela had died of heart failure caused by AIDS. That immediately raised questions about whether any of Fela's 27 wives had contracted the disease.

Fela, known across the continent by his first name, was one of the dominant superstars of African music in the 1970s and '80s and had recorded more than 50 albums.

He also became famous for his songs criticizing the military junta of Gen. Sani Abacha, as well as earlier military regimes in Nigeria, West Africa's most populous nation.

``Fela was a great legend who used his music tirelessly to bring about social justice,'' said Rasheed Gbadamosi, a prominent businessman and writer.

Fela, a saxophone player, was born in 1938 in Abeokuta, about 50 miles north of the capital, Lagos. He started out as a jazz musician but shifted toward pop and reggae while studying at Trinity College of Music in Oxford, England, from 1959 to 1962.

He also spent time in Ghana and the United States, where he developed a strong interest in politics and civil rights. Returning to Nigeria for good in 1973, he swiftly became a big star. His top albums included Zombie, Army Arrangement and Vagabond in Power.

"For us, he was a monument, a reference point,'' prize-winning singer Lokua Kanza of Congo told The Associated Press in Paris. ``To hear him was like a blast of fresh air, a shock.''

He became enmeshed in a long-running confrontation with military authorities because of his urging that young Nigerians become more politically active. Troops burned down Fela's house in 1977.

In 1979, Fela and his entourage of wives and girlfriends went to the ruling junta's headquarters and placed the coffin of his recently deceased mother on the steps. Fela said he wanted to demonstrate that the power of the state was impotent compared to the power of the human spirit.

Fela was convicted of illegally exporting foreign currency in 1984 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A year later, the military government of Gen. Muhammed Buhari was overthrown by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who freed Fela.

In March 1996, Fela's home was attacked by gunmen. His most recent arrest came April 9. He and about 100 others -- including several of his wives -- were detained for marijuana use by police drug agents who raided his nightclub north of Lagos.

Fela's fans had known for weeks that he was ill, but few details about his condition were made public before his death.

Ransome-Kuti, who once worked as deputy director-general of the World Health Organization, used Sunday's news conference to accuse the Nigerian government of failing to implement effective AIDS programs. He said AIDS cases at Lagos University Hospital had risen from less than 10 annually to more than 300 since 1992.

Another brother of Fela's -- Beko Ransome-Kuti -- is an outspoken political dissident who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last year for alleged participation in a coup plot.

Article 4

Nigerian Musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Dies

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, 58, the maverick Nigerian singer, composer and saxophonist who fused rock with African rhythms into a blend known as "Afrobeat" and popularized it around the world, died here Aug. 3. He had AIDS.

Known to his fans as "Fela," he rose to national and international fame with his distinctive Afrobeat music and his criticism of Nigeria's military government, and for his bohemian lifestyle. Known for openly smoking marijuana, dressing only in his underpants and sleeping with numerous women, Fela was a legend among his fans.

After learning of his death, hundreds of tearful fans gathered to mourn at "the Shrine," Fela's home and club in the Ikeja working-class district of Lagos, Nigeria's capital.

Fela, one of the dominant superstars of African music in the 1970s and 1980s, recorded more than 50 albums. He also became famous for his songs criticizing the military junta of Gen. Sani Abacha, as well as earlier military regimes in Nigeria. He was detained several times and even imprisoned on a variety of charges.

In his final two years, Fela made no effort to oppose military rule, even though one of his brothers, democracy activist Beko Ransome-Kuti, is serving a prison term for involvement in an alleged coup plot. The musician stayed at home, giving infrequent, and usually brief, musical performances at the Shrine.

Fela was born in Abeokuta, about 50 miles north of Lagos. He started out as a jazz musician but shifted toward pop and reggae while studying at Trinity College of Music in Oxford, England, from 1959 to 1962.

He also spent time in Ghana and the United States, where he developed a strong interest in politics and civil rights. After returning to Nigeria for good in 1973, he swiftly became a star. His top albums included "Zombie," "Army Arrangement" and "Vagabond in Power."

He became enmeshed in a long-running confrontation with military authorities because of his urging that young Nigerians become more politically active. Troops burned down his house in 1977.

In 1979, Fela and his entourage of wives and girlfriends went to the ruling junta's headquarters and placed the coffin of his recently deceased mother on the steps. Fela said he wanted to demonstrate that the power of the state was impotent compared with the power of the human spirit.

Fela was convicted of illegally exporting foreign currency in 1984 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A year later, the military government of Gen. Muhammed Buhari was overthrown by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who freed Fela. In March 1996, Fela's home was attacked by gunmen. His most recent arrest came April 9. He and about 100 others -- including several of his wives -- were detained for marijuana use by police drug agents who raided his nightclub north of Lagos.

During his heyday, Fela changed part of the family name from Ransome to Anikulapo -- which means "one who keeps death in his pouch" in his local Yoruba language.

The announcement of the cause of his death raised questions about whether any of his 27 wives had contracted the disease.

The Washington Post - Monday, August 4, 1997

Article 5

Nigerian Afrobeat superstar Fela dies

Maverick artist brought continent's music to the world

LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigeria's maverick Afrobeat superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who helped bring the continent's music to a global audience, died at 58 after weeks of illness, national television said.

The television quoted the musician's brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a medical doctor, as saying the artist died Saturday afternoon.

A star of the Nigerian and international music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, Anikulapo-Kuti, known to fans as "Fela," won a reputation for smoking marijuana, sleeping with large numbers of women and dressing only in his underpants

"It's not true, Fela will live forever, he can't die," said one of the local toughs, known as area boys, outside the Reuters office in the heart of Lagos when told of the news.

In recent weeks Fela had been critically ill with an undisclosed sickness. He initially refused treatment by both Western and traditional Nigerian doctors.

For decades Fela got under the skin of the military governments that have dominated Africa's most populous nation and he was detained several times and even imprisoned on a variety of charges.

Earlier this year he was held by the drug squad, which said it hoped to reform his character and wean him away from marijuana, but the narcotics agents later released him and admitted defeat.

"I have been smoking for 40 years. It helps my music. People know I smoke worldwide. It is not drugs, it is grass," Fela said.

Fela was long a thorn in the side of military governments in Nigeria, mixing his music with social criticism and advocacy of radical pan-Africanist ideas.

His music reached its peak in the 1970s when his outspoken social comment was expressed in songs that preached human dignity in Africa and abused soldiers who seized power.

"He is the first person to make democracy and human rights serious issues in Nigeria," said Nigerian journalist Dulue Mbachu.

Pro-democracy groups now proliferate in Africa's most populous nation, ruled by the military for 27 of its 37 years of independence from Britain.

Fela, who married more than two dozen women at once and slept with hundreds of others, had his most spectacular clash with authorities in 1977 when soldiers stormed his house in Lagos, which he had declared "Kalakuta Republic."

His mother was badly injured in the raid and died six months later. This also marked the beginning of his decline and loss of a fortune he had made from a successful music career.

Fela was born on October 15, 1938, and received formal musical training in Britain.

He returned home in 1963 and formed the Koola Lobitos band, playing a fusion of jazz and "highlife".

Koola Lobitos metamorphosed into Nigeria '70, later Africa '70 and finally Egypt '80 and became his medium for preaching African emancipation and lampooning the army rulers.

Fela's first break in the music business came in 1969 when he visited the United States and met members of the radical Black Panthers, who helped him set up a band in Nigeria to promote the African rock music he called "Afro-beat."

By 1972, he was on his way to stardom with records that pulled no punches in criticizing military rule in Nigeria. In 1976, he topped the charts with "Zombie," which attacked soldiers as no more than machines following orders.

Article 6

Nigeria Mourns Maverick Afrobeat Legend Fela

LAGOS, Aug 3 (Reuter) - Nigerians on Sunday mourned the death of maverick Afrobeat superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who helped bring the continent's music to a global audience. ``The music legend of our time, Fela, joins his ancestors,'' said the majority state-owned Sunday Times in heavy black type across the front page. The singer, composer and saxophonist, known to his fans simply as "Fela,'' died on Saturday after several weeks of illness. He was 58.

A star of the Nigerian and international music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, Fela won a reputation for smoking marijuana, sleeping with large numbers of women and dressing only in his underpants.

"It's not true, Fela will live forever, he can't die,'' said one of the local toughs, known as area boys, outside the Reuters office in the heart of Lagos when told of the news. Newspapers reported scenes of shock and disbelief at ``The Shrine,'' Fela's club in a working class district of Nigeria's humming commercial capital.

In recent weeks Fela had been critically ill with an undisclosed sickness. He initially refused treatment by both Western and traditional Nigerian doctors. Although under pressure from his family Fela was moved into a clinic, it was not made public whether he was accepting medicinal drugs -- against which he had always taken a stand on principle.

For decades Fela got under the skin of the military governments that have dominated Africa's most populous nation. He was detained several times and even imprisoned on a variety of charges. Earlier this year he was held by the drugs squad, which said it hoped to reform his character and wean him away from marijuana -- but the narcotics agents later released him and admitted defeat.

In his final two years Fela made no effort to challenge military strongman General Sani Abacha, even though his brother Beko Ransome-Kuti, a democracy activist, is serving a prison sentence for involvement in an alleged coup plot. Beko Ransome-Kuti, who is kept alone and banned from hearing news from outside his prison cell, had his 57th birthday on Saturday. It was not clear whether he had been informed of his brother's death.

Local newspapers recently reported Fela's death, something which was later said by the same papers to have amused him. They speculated that he had been suffering from AIDS, given a life during which he reputedly slept with hundreds of women, dozens of whom hung around his home until the end.

During his heyday Fela changed part of his family name from Ransome to Anikulapo -- which means "one who keeps death in his pouch'' in his local Yoruba language. ``After years of raising hell, doing what mere mortals with a healthy respect for death would not dare, death uncorked itself from Fela's pouch and sneaked in on him,'' said the Punch newspaper on Sunday.

By Matthew Tostevin - Reuters/Variety August, 03 1997

Source of all articles

Oct 26, 2009

The Afrobeat Diaries ... by allaboutjazz.com (Pt.IV)

The Afrobeat Diaries, Part 4

Source (direct link to allaboutjazz.com article)

At the center of Fela: Kalakuta Notes is a diary its Ghanaian-based author, John Collins, kept during his stay at Fela Kuti's compound, Kalakuta Republic, in Nigeria over 18 days in January 1977. Fortunately for Collins, though unfortunately for eyewitness journalism, he wasn't there a month later, when around 1,000 soldiers broke into compound, burnt it to the ground and beat and raped its residents (see Part 2 of this series). Nonetheless, Collins' notes, and his interviews with musicians who knew and worked with Kuti, add some useful detail to the historical record.

The book's working title was Fela Through Ghanaian Eyes, and most of its original content derives from visits Kuti made to Ghana, Nigeria's western neighbour, in the 1960s and 1970s. The author himself first saw Kuti perform in 1972 at the University of Ghana (where he is in 2009 a professor in the music department), and met him for the last time, in Amsterdam, Holland in 1981. Kuti's life and career post 1981 until his death in 1997, which were every bit as dramatic as they were in the 1970s, are dealt with relatively briskly. So too, as a consequence, are Kuti's political activities, which included the formation of his own political party, Movement of the People, and his ongoing campaign to become President of Nigeria.

The absence of an informed Nigerian point of view unbalances Collins' story as much as it enriches it. His own Ghanaian perspective is matched by those of the other voices in the book, in the main musicians who worked with Kuti in the 1960s and 1970s. Their reminiscences are worthy of record, though like all memories, some may be colored by the passage of time. The late Ghanaian highlife singer Joe Mensah, for instance, says that "I've never, up to this day [1998], heard any trumpeter that great...He had everything, the embouchure, the intonation, the dexterity, the fingering." The guitarist Stan Plange, on the other hand, who knew Kuti at the same time as Mensah, says he played trumpet "very badly. Fela was never very good on trumpet but was much better on the keyboards, especially jazz piano." These contrary recollections, early in the book, trigger a caution the reader needs to apply on later pages.

Collins is strong on Kuti's relationships with the Ghanaian-based club and record label owner, Faisal Helwani, ubiquitous on the scene in the 1970s, and with West African Decca. Here Collins can be as entertaining as he is factually diligent. Chief Moshood Abiola was at the time the majority shareholder in Decca, which had severed Kuti's contract and was refusing to pay compensation. Kuti's dispute with the label was, Collins relates, "not helped when Fela had his people dump 14 barrels of human faeces outside Abiola's villa."

Collins' stay at Kalakuta was a short one, and the dozen or so pages given over to his description of day-to-day life there don't always make for pretty reading: in 1977, Kuti was in the middle of several years of especially brutal police and army oppression, and the miasma of state violence surrounding the Afrika 70 family of musicians, friends and hangers-on sometimes seeped through Kalakuta's fence. Residents who infringed house rules were at the time routinely offered the choice of a beating or expulsion.

The author, clearly, was shocked by some of what he witnessed during his stay. He describes Kuti's lifestyle as "fiery, promiscuous, rascally and egoistic." Others will remember Kuti as extraordinarily courageous, intellectually stimulating and a loyal friend. He was also entirely free of racial or cultural bitterness—he lived and studied in London, a city he very much enjoyed revisiting, for several years as a young man—and was as much at home with white foreigners as he was with his own people. It was the post-colonial mentality of Nigeria's rulers, and the incapacitating tribalism of its populace, that Kuti hated and worked against. Collins acknowledges that Kuti's "peppery character in the African soup (is) sorely missed," but it's unfortunate that he chose not to draw a more complete portrait of his subject.

Fela: Kalakuta Notes, which is copiously illustrated, is a warts and all reminiscence, and not all the warts are Kuti's. But it's a book any Afrobeat enthusiast will enjoy and its publication is be welcomed.


THANK YOU AGAIN Michael Ricci and Chris May from allaboutjazz.com

Oct 14, 2009

Monsalve - Mecha

The bassist of the Venezolean band KRé finally just published his first disc called "Mecha".

It`s a mix between Afrobeat, Jazz and Experimental music and surely worth to listen to. It can be bought at cdbaby.com.

Further information about Monsalve can be found at myspace.


01. No Llevo Kaleta 6:01
02. Inflamable 5:16
03. La Otra Orilla 4:29
04. 24/06/2007 0:43
05. Deo E' Mono 5:38
06. Marea Baja 5:50
07. Volatile 3:15
08. Maryche 2:48
09. Tatequieto 3:27

Oct 13, 2009

The Superpowers - Revival Time


The Superpowers is a group of 12 musicians dedicated to continuing the tradition and spreading the message of AFROBEAT music. This society hopes to bring together young and old through music and dance to continue the AFROBEAT vision for social revolution. The Superpowers strive to create a communion -- where people of all backgrounds can unite in collective musical energy and dance, and spread awareness of the political and spiritual messages which fuel the music.
The band, for all intents and purposes, is simply not a band,more a commune of musicians (did we mention that there are twelve of them?), united under the banner of Afrobeat—the multilayered sonic fusion of funk, jazz, and traditional African tribal music, fueled by a “revolutionary consciousness.” The group strives not to act as a band, but an actual society—the model for a better one, or a living breathing active microcosm.

If this sounds heavy-handed, then you probably haven’t heard Adam Clark, drummer and founder of the society in question. A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Clark doesn’t just talk about his music following the group’s live set, he never stops playing it. His words fly off his tongue in rapid succession, rhythmic in their free-form flow, jumping from one idea to the next in musical progression, just like the layered sounds and dance-inducing backbeats of his soulful Afrobeat groove. “One of the things we’ve been trying to do is keep the Afrobeat essentials,” he says, “and work our own melodies and ideas into that and improvise with the forms of the songs.”

His enthusiasm is as manic and precise as his playing, especially when discussing clave, the driving rhythmic pattern and time signature that has roots in traditional Yoruban music, a precursor to the modern Afrobeat sound. “It’s pretty nodal, and sticks to one basic sound,” he says of the basics of the genre. “But that’s where the clave comes in. It locks everything together. There’s so many parts happening, and they’re all simple parts, but they interlock in a way that creates this huge orchestration.”

It’s this human side to the music that carries its inherent theme of revolutionary consciousness. But The Superpowers is an instrumental group, and only sabar player Samba Cisse is of African descent. The origin of the genre itself is attributed to African revolutionary Fela Kuti (a.k.a. the Black President). The group nevertheless maintains this socio-political edge (and keeps it sincere—these are all well-educated, articulate people after all), as it’s simply what inspired the music in the first place.

It’s just inherent, Clark says: “We’ve got ten to twelve people playing on stage. It takes a lot of listening, and you have to put your ego aside. There are solos that happen, but in Afrobeat, everybody is essentially a percussionist. And you’re really trying to play that one part, one way, meditating on that one part. It’s very essential that each person does their one thing to contribute to the greater picture of the song. Even though when you hear the music and it sounds very complex and there’s a lot of sounds going on, it’s really just a bunch of people working together, doing very simple things. And I’m not here to preach, but I think that translates to what society may have to do to really make some changes.”



Superpowers' 2007 release Revival Time is a groovtasticly aggressive Afrobeat album that will leave you dancing from start to finish. Presented by the Boston Afrobeat Society, this nine-piece Afrobeat ensemble is a burgeoning group on the cusp of an even hotter Afrobeat scene. Their nine track release is a tightly arranged pulsing Afrobeat monster fit to be named "super."

The Superpowers are all graduates of New England Conservatory where they came together under the leadership of Adam Clark, the band's drummer and founder. They started playing Fela Kuti tunes and found Afrobeat to be an amazing new medium through which to express themselves as jazz musicians.

While the Superpowers are definitely an Afrobeat band with an aggressive Afrobeat sound, they incorporate elements of several musical styles including jazz, funk, soul, reggae, and rock. Their horn section delivers lines one would expect to hear from Earth Wind and Fire or the JB's over pulsating Afrobeat grooves laid down by their proficient rhythm section. Their guitars and keyboards incorporate the perfect amount of distortion effects to add a psychedelic rock/dub feel.

What's really great about Revival Time is the range the album encompasses. There are slower smooth tracks like "Cosmic Spiral" and "Moonlit Heart" to chill you out, more upbeat lively tracks like "Abbey Rockers #1" and "Abami Eda" to make you dance, and more unconventional, unique sounding tracks like "Revival Time" to give you something you haven't heard before.

What's best about Revival Time is the extent to which it exposes and accentuates the influences and components that led Fela Anikulapo Kuti to create the genre, particularly the American elements of funk and jazz. The rhythm guitar lines are extremely funky as well as the horn lines, but at the same time, the keyboard and horn solos are extremely jazzy. A lot of Afrobeat bands will prioritize staying true to the Afrobeat tradition. The Superpowers aren't afraid to deviate from the accepted Afrobeat sound, and that allows them the freedom to develop a much more unique and interesting style.

Half the Superpowers live in Boston and half live in Brooklyn, so they play a lot of shows in both cities. They tour most of the northeast hitting cities like Providence, RI, Burlington, VT, Northhampton, MA, and stops in between. Their sound is growing, and so is their fanbase as they are at the forefront of a booming Afrobeat scene. Bands like Antibalas and Akoya are spreading Fela's message, and The Superpowers can hang with any Afrobeat band out there. Their horns are tight, their rhythm section rocks, and their attitude and sensibility set them apart from the rest.



01. Revival Time 5:14
02. Abbey Rockers #1 5:39
03. Cosmic Spiral 8:43
04. S.L.D.R. 5:56
05. Moonlit Heart 4:52
06. Rising Tide 8:13
07. Savannah 10:30
08. System Slaves 11:20
09. Abami Eda 9:22

Oct 12, 2009

Papa Groove - We're not blind


Martin Siberok (HOUR), August 7th, 2008 Lordy Lord - a 13-piece from Montreal blasting out a healthy dose of funky R&B and Afrobeat for a good solid hour. Impressive live, these hometown guys prove with their debut album that they're a force to be reckoned with. Musically, PAPAGROOVE takes us on a rich aural journey that stretches from West Africa (Mercy Lady, Rimouna) to Oakland, USA (East Road, Little Man). The members - all outstanding players - run a tight ship, while vocalist Sebastien Francisque keeps it evenly keeled. Kudos go to the five-strong horn section that punctuates each song with tight blasts of brass. Sounding like Fela Kuti and Tower Of Power all rolled into one, Papa Groove is a great party band with the right political message.

What better than an 13-piece Afro-Funk band to end the jazz festivities on a high note Papagroove is a home-grown collective,bursting right out of Montreal's jazz/world scene and they are certain not to leave any listeners unaffected. With a powerhouse five piece brass section and R & B/soul-tinged vocals, thier music is impossible to listen to sitting down.



We're not Blind is the first album from Montreal top notch funkateers Papa Groove, these musicians have been stomping the stages of great festivals in Canada and around the world. Their music is an engaging mix of Afrobeat, Funk, disco and Soul while their texts are socially charged. We're Not Blind is the result of five years of work and has been produced par David Shurton (Jean Leloup, Bran Van 3000) who brought a pop sensibility to their mix, while Cameroun's son David Ngohdeffiko, (ex Fela Kuti bandmate) brought in an undeniable African authenticity. The bands 13 members include a 5 member brass section. Their stellar performances last year motivated the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2008 to bring them back. It is the beginning for this dancing machine, a musical tornado that can not be stopped.


The name says it all-they lay down an undeniable groove wherever they play! Papa Groove-formed six years ago from players in the Montreal jazz and world scenes-bring a muscular Afro-funk, powered by solid rhythm, a five-piece horn section, and the explosive soulful vocals of one Sebastien Francisque. Those who caught them at last year's Festival will eagerly welcome back this party outfit and its bracing new album, We are not blind.



01. Afro-Taxi
02. Papagroove
03. One Day
04. East Road
05. Cold Machine
06. Mercy Lady
07. Little Man
08. One Way Departure
09. Rimouna
10. Wild Life
11. We're Not Blind
12. Safaria
13. Soul Friction

Oct 8, 2009

Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family - Na Teef Know De Road of Teef


Nicholas Addo-Nettey was born in Accra, Ghana on August 7th, 1954. From his early childhood on he was dedicated to music: he started singing in a gospel choir when he was only 6, and later on joined different traditional and cultural groups as a dancer and percussionist. In the 60s, Ghanaian youth were crazy about American soul music, and Nicholas was no exception to the rule. James Brown and Otis Redding were his idols, and by the age of 18 he started to perform himself. Shortly after, fellow musician Joe King Kologbo invited him to the Mecca of African funk music: Lagos, Nigeria. Nicholas was not only talented but also lucky. Kologbo introduced him to Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the undisputed Godfather of Afrobeat. He was able to convince the master of his skills as a drummer and singer and in 1971 became a full member of Fela´s legendary band Africa 70 as a conga player and background singer. The first record he appeared on was “Shakara” – an international smash hit and one of Fela´s greatest. Nicholas was at the right place at the right time. In the 70s, stars like James Brown, B.B. King, Ginger Baker, Stevie Wonder and Manu Dibango came to Lagos to visit Fela’s Shrine Club to hear this new and incredibly heavy thing called Afrobeat.

While playing and recording for Fela’s Africa 70 (he appeared on all of Fela’s releases between 1971 and 1978), Mr. Addo-Nettey also always had his own thing going on the side. He released two solo LPs for the Tabansi Label with the Martin Brothers Band from Portharcort, Nigeria: Mind Your Own Business in 1971 and Na Teef Know The Road of Teef in 1973. The latter, made with Africa 70 musicians and singers, is heavy Afro-funk, recorded in Ginger Baker’s highly equipped Lagos studio, where many of Fela’s albums were recorded, as well. Obviously, Fela was not amused at all about these kinds of things, even less when he heard how strong the Na Teef… album was. Reportedly, he said, “Don’t you ever, EVER play it again!” And so it was. Despite being a killer record, Na Teef… remained undercover for more than 30 years.

The story of Na Teef… would have ended there had it not been for Frank Gossner (aka DJ Soulpusher of voodoofunk.com, a dedicated cratedigger who, in the 90s, found a copy hidden at a record store in Philly, tracked down Nicholas in Berlin, and brought the album to the attention of Daptone Records.

As for Nicholas, in the 70s he experienced life in Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, a place where about 100 musicians, dancers, friends and family members of Fela lived, played, loved, and celebrated together. It was a property in Lagos that had been declared an independent state by Fela, in open defiance of the brutal dictatorship that was ruling in Nigeria at that time. The regime, which hated Fela for his radical messages and his popularity, attacked Kalakuta several times. In one of these raids, Nicholas was arrested with several other band members and remained in prison for nine months, where he was strongly mistreated. During another army attack in 1977, Fela’s mother was thrown out of an upstairs window and killed, and the whole compound was burned to the ground. The dangerous conditions became to much for Nicholas to bear. When playing at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1978, he and other band members, including drummer Tony Allen, left Africa 70 because they didn’t want to go back to Nigeria. While Allen moved to Paris, Nicholas stayed in Berlin where he raised two sons and continues to play music to this day. Pax Nicholas now leads his own band, Ridimtaksi, which features West African musicians, continuing to play his own fresh take on Afrobeat.

– Matti Steinitz


Information by Voodoofunk

The Pax Nicholas LP was one of the first African records I ever found. It's also one of the rarest records in my posession as I don't know of anybody else who has ever seen or heard it. Which is a shame because this also is one of the best and most unique sounding Afrobeat records out there.

It was in Philadelphia in the spring of 2005. I had made a visit to Smith's Record store. All the high caliber funk 45s had been gone years ago (many of them into my own collection), but I wanted to say "hi!" to the owner Stanley Smith. When I mentioned that I was about to go to Africa to look for Funk records, he said "I have a stack of African LPs in my office, wanna have a look at them?"

Pax Nicholas Cover FrontI found a few nice pieces but the Pax Nicholas LP was by far the most interesting and unique record in the bunch. A few weeks later, I embarked onto a 3 year long digging trip through West Africa. Hundreds and thousands of records were added to my collection but the Pax Nicholas LP always remained somehow special to me.

I tried to track down Nicholas with the help of friends in Ghana and Nigeria but I couldn't find a lead. All it took in the end was a simple google-search and I had found him: Ironically, Nicholas Nettey had been living in Berlin since 1978. Nic was very enthusiastic about getting his record re-issued. I approached my old friends at Daptone Records about this and after having listened to some sound clips, they decided to make this their first African release.

Pax Nicholas - Cover BackWhen I asked Nic if there were any master tapes left, he told me that years ago, he had had a big fight with his brother during which they both ended up throwing the tapes at each other until they (the tapes) were totally mangled.

Thankfully, my copy of this record was in pristine and unplayed condition when I had found it so we were able to re-master from the original vinyl. This album will be in stores worldwide by September.



Na Teef Know De Road of Teef, the previously unreleased album from Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family, is a seriously funky slice of afro-funk recorded in Lagos at the height of afrobeat's summit. Nicholas Addo-Nettey performed and recorded with Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Afrika 70 as a conga player and backup singer from 1971 until 1978 debuting on Shakara and leaving the band during the Berlin Jazz Festival along with Tony Allen and several others. While Allen moved to Paris, Nicholas stayed in Berlin where he continues to make funky music today.

Na Teef Know De Road of Teef was recorded at Ginger Baker's studio in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973, one of two solo albums Nicholas recorded while with Afrika 70. The album previously went unreleased at the behest of Fela who upon hearing how uncontrollably nasty the album was forbade it to be played again. As Nicholas was currently living under Fela's rule in the Kalakuta Republic, he had no choice but to obey. As a result the album was virtually unheard until Frank Gossner (voodoofunk.com) discovered it in a record store in Philly. He brought it to the attention of Daptone Records who gave the world a gift of extreme afrofunk flavor.

This album is heavy. As a percussionist, Nicholas emphasizes a rich texture of interlocking percussion that takes on the identity of the tracks. Nicholas' voice is melancholy and gloomy which matches the keyboards and guitar lines that have an underproduced raw feel. Na Teef Know De Road of Teef represents the craze James Brown unleashed across West Africa and the legions of musicians who were enraptured by the funky interpretation Africa had to offer. Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family is a cut above the vast majority to come out of the Afro-funk wave. Nicholas and the other musicians playing on the album had the pedigree of Afrika 70, the band able to put the most unique stamp on afro-funk, and their musicianship and attitude is evident.


Brooklyn's Daptone label presents an astounding reissue of the unearthed opus of Pax Nicholas, a one time drummer with Fela Kuti during the most legendary years of his career. As the story goes, Pax Nicholas was a prodigiously talented drummer and singer (as you'll find out when listening to this) brought to the attention of Fela Kuti in 1971. Fela promptly drafted Pax into the Africa 70 lineup where he remained until 1978, when he left the group to live in Berlin (where he's been living ever since) due to civil unrest and persecution at home in Nigeria. During this time in the band he had his own thing going on the side, recording two now-legendary solo LPs for the Tabansi label. The lineup included members of Africa 70 and the Martin Brothers Band, playing a potent brand of Afrobeat so strong that when Fela heard 'Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef' in 1973, he reportedly told Pax "Don't you ever, EVER play it again!", hence the LP hiding away until Frank Gossner recently uncovered it in a Philadelphia record store and turned it over to Daptone for release. At only four tracks long it's criminally short, but obviously still a massive treat for any Afrobeat aficionados and ranks shoulder-to-shoulder with much of Fela's classic material from the same period. It's heavyweight material and deserves to be heard by any ears drawn to a prime Afro-groove.



01. Na Teef Know De Road of Teef
02. Ataa Onukpa
03. Na Six Feet
04. You

Nigerial Special - Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Nigerian Blues 1970-76


In music, as elsewhere, the talk is of convergence, and Africa appears to be where pop stars are converging in early 2008. From American hopefuls (Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer) to the British old guard (Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project, Mick Jones collaborating with Rachid Taha), it seems the sound of the djembe has never been cooler, nor the trip from Upper West Side to downtown Lagos easier.

The current enthusiasm for emo-afrobeat (Nigeriana or whatever the NME christens it) might not even see us through the spring, but this compilation, subtitled Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6, arrives seven days after Vampire Weekend’s debut, so perhaps it is forgivable to wonder if there is something in the air that signifies more than a fad on the rise.

The dawning of the 1970s saw a Year Zero for Lagos’s artists: musicians (mainly Igbo from the east) had gone home to support the secession in Biafra, Fela Kuti had returned from America bearing funk, and other progressive minds were enviously looking to rock for inspiration. Highlife (the sprightly, guitar-led and Caribbean-influenced pop of West Africa) had to modernise to survive.

What happened next was an explosion of the imagination as the Nigerians appropriated everything they could, Africanised it and released it into a fertile marketplace. The highlife got a whole lot higher.

Although they are classics of Nigeriana, it’s difficult to imagine anything more Cuban than Opotopo’s 1976 album cut Belema, which features the guitarist Fatai Rolling Dollar, who lost everything he owned when the Nigerian Army attacked Kuti’s compound a year later. Actually, the salsa quotient is increased by the rhythms of The Semi Colon, but somehow both sit perfectly alongside I Want a Break Thru by The Hykkers, a heavy rock jam with unfettered use of the guitar FX pedals, or the reggae within Leo Fadaka’s Blak Sound.

Eye-opening as these 26 tracks are, however, there are apparently tonnes of old vinyl still waiting to be discovered: Soundway promise volumes of disco funk and psychedelic afro-rock either side of Easter. Converge this way, there is definitely something in the air.


Lagos, Nigeria, in a lengthy 2006 New Yorker article, is depicted as a post-industrial wasteland, an environmental, economic, and social disaster, fueled by corruption, crime, and the entropy of over eight million people (and counting) vying for limited space and resources. Lagos is considered a 21st century "megacity" teetering on the brink of total chaos when it's not already embroiled in it. "As a picture of the urban future," wrote author George Packer, "Lagos is fascinating only if you're able to leave it."

Lagos wasn't always like this, nor was Nigeria as a whole. In fact, just about 40 years ago, following the end of the Biafran War, Nigeria briefly experienced a huge economic and cultural boom, its oil revenues generating billions, the nation thriving, and the country producing an impressive number of artists, writers, and musicians. As far as the musicians go, many still only know Nigeria for Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Some are also familiar with some combination of juju masters King Sunny Adé and Ebenezer Obey, the perfectly nicknamed highlife star Christogonus Ezebuiro "Sir Warrior" Obinna of the nebulous Oriental Brothers International Band, but they still represent just the tip of a vast West African iceberg.

Fela's not included on the illuminating 2xCD Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues, but members of his pre-Afrobeat highlife band the Koola Lobitos are, playing in the Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination. Ebenezer Obey's not here, but the man who allegedly taught him how to play, Easy Kabaka Brown, is. "There are thousands of tracks by popular and not-so-popular bands that are still yet to be issued outside of West Africa," writes curator Miles Cleret in the well-researched liner notes.

That diversity, those numbers, and those colorful yet almost unknowable names are part of the challenge in compiling any collection of African music, especially drawing from a region as fruitful as the continent's northwest chunk. It's also no doubt what keeps many from diving in and exploring on their own. But if little on Nigeria Special sticks out for the neophyte or casual fan, all the better: The comp is the perfect place to start if you want to move beyond the better known heavy hitters of Nigerian music.

What makes Nigeria Special doubly useful is that, per its subtitle, it doesn't just rely on funk or dance music. Instead, on Disc One, we get acts like the Funkees, with their soulful, organ-driven "Akula Owu Onyeara", or the trancelike, percussion-heavy "Oja Omoba" from Dele Ojo & His Star Brothers Band. St. Augustine & His Rovers Dance Band offer the unfailingly peppy "Onwu Ama Dike", while "Feso Jaiye" from the Sahara All Stars of Jos, is downright mellow in its sax, guitar and electric piano explorations.

The Nigerian Police Force Band plays Afrobeat in a more familiar mold on Disc Two, their "Asiko Ni Mi" clearly indebted to Fela. Easy Kabaka Brown's band, Opotopo, plays up the West African-Caribbean connection in "Belema". The Hykkers' "I Want a Break Thru" is wah-wah infused psychedelic instrumental rock. The (again, perfectly named) Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band of Aba contribute the tightly syncopated polyrhythms of "Alabeke", featuring a smoking guitar solo. Any one of these tracks may be eye opening on their own. Taken as a whole, the comp itself is as revelatory as it is incessantly enjoyable. Pop history has rarely gone down so painlessly. "Thousands of tracks" yet to be issued, claims Cleret? As long as they're this beautifully packaged and presented, bring 'em on.

— Joshua Klein, April 7, 2008


Shortly after the disastrous Biafran war and before the profits from Nigeria's oil boom were completely squandered, laundered, sequestered or stolen, Nigerian music was on a roll. By the mid '80s, the home grown recording industry would be in serious decline, but this entertaining 2CD set reminds us how vibrant things were, mining a vein overlapping that of Honest Jons' 2005 releases, Lagos Chop Up and Lagos All Routes – with the added bonus of informative sleeve notes that you can actually read, and reproductions of colourful cover art. Compiler and label boss Miles Cleret avoids the obvious juju/apala/Afro-beat scenes also very active at the time, concentrating as the title indicates on the rather psychedelic, 'western'-influenced Afro-rock and the more gentle, loose-limbed highlife typical of the period, mostly by musicians from east of Lagos. Even serious Nigerian music heads will know only a few of the bigger names such as Victor Uwaifo, The Funkees and Celestine Ukwu, but the lesser known artists are in no way overshadowed.

Highlights are multitudinous, but the first track that really catches the attention on disc 1 is the surging Amalinja, by The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination with its insistent sax work. The Funkees weigh in with the funkily chugging Afro-rock Akula Owu Onyeara, boasting prominent bass, searing vocals, wah-wah guitar and noodling organ. Dele Ojo and His Star Brothers band are rootsier; Oja Omoba being a percussion-rich treat, while the swinging highlife of The Harbours Band's Koma Mosi may be the model for King Sunny Ade's Easy Motion Tourist. Other standouts include gloriously mellow highlife from St. Augustine & His Rovers Dance Band and The Sahara All Stars of Jos, whose “Feso Jaiye” floats along on a languid groove decorated with sweetly muted trumpet, sax, sublime vocal harmonies and what sounds like a vibraphone. To close, there’s a smouldering Afro-jazz instrumental by The Tony Benson Sextet, featuring the kind of luminous organ solo that might have been ground out by The Spencer Davis Group or suchlike a few years earlier.

Disc two opens with the slinky, Fela-influenced Asiko Mi Ni by The Nigeria Police Force Band. The bass-line strongly suggests Dave and Ansel Collins' reggae smash Double Barrel (from two years earlier) and the organ solo is straight out of bedlam. Opotopo's jaunty Belema features Fatai Rolling Dollar, who recently made a comeback working with Tony Allen, and then there's Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band of Aba, who sound like they learnt a thing or three from New Orleans funkmeisters The Meters. Two other highlights are Collins Oke Elaiho & His Odoligie Nobles Dance band – whose hypnotic Siminyi-Yaya features yet another monster bass line and an infectious vocal hook – and The Hykkers’ Afro-rock instrumental I Want To Break Thru, with its wonderfully crazed guitar grooves.

One could go on, but there wouldn’t be room to write even half the bands' names. This compilation pulls off the trick of being a fine place for the curious novice to start, but also of great interest to specialists.



01. The Anambra Beats - Ayamma
02. Celestine Ukwu & His Philosophers National - Okwukwe Na Nchekwube
03. The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination - Amalinja
04. The Funkees - Akula Owu Onyeara
05. Dele Ojo & His Star Brothers Band - Oja Omoba
06. The Harbours Band - Koma Mosi
07. The Semi Colon - Nekwaha Semi Colon
08. Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestros - Osalobua Rekpama
09. St. Augustine & His Rovers Dance Band - Onwu Ama Dike
10. The Sahara All Stars Of Jos - Feso Jaiye
11. MonoMono - Ema Kowe Iasa Ile Wa
12. Tunji Oyelana and The Benders - To Whom It May Concern
13. The Tony Benson Sextet - Ugali
14. The Nigerian Police Force Band 'the Force 7' - Asiko Mi Ni
15. Godwin Ezike & The Ambassadors - Torri Wowo
16. Opotopo (easy Kabaka Brown) - Belema
17. Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band Of Aba - Alabeke
18. Popular Cooper & His All Beats Band - Arraino
19. Collins Oke Elaiho & His Odoligie Nobles Dance Band - Simini-yaya
20. Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats - Buroda Mase
21. The Hykkers - I Want A Break Thru'
22. George Akaeze & His Augmented Hits - Business Before Pleasure
23. Shadow Abraham With Mono Mono Friends - Omo Yen Wu Mi
24. Leo Fadaka & The Heroes - Blak Sound
25. Osayomore Joseph & The Creative 7 - Eguae Oba
26. Etubom Rex Williams & His Nigerian Artistes - Akpaison

Further information can be found on the offical homepage!!!

Oct 7, 2009

JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra - Afro Sound System

JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra Instrumental band based on Afrobeat. Spiritually influenced by Fela Kuti, "JariBu" originates "Neo Afrobeat", mixing with Funk and Jazz as the name of the band comes from "Try" in Swahili. In April 2009, released the 1st album "Afro Sound System". It is also the name of club event, which is organized regularly in Tokyo, incorporating many musicians, DJs, foods, visual creators and the other culture. As participation in "FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 09" held in July 2009 has been decided, the performance after this will be watched by all the scene with expectation.



02.Secret mission
03.Days of the glory
04.Get freedom
06.The spirit why Fela fights
08.T.A.T.G. (Tony’s African Traditional Groove)

Oct 6, 2009

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra - Talkatif


Oiginality is overrated. Where is it written that the height of creativity and artistic merit lies in doing something that’s never been done before? Is there not equal value in taking an existing form and polishing it to perfection? We can easily see that this cult of originality is a recent historical development: the ancient Greeks found true beauty in the refinement of stories hundreds of years old, viewing art as an attempt to emulate the mastery of those who came before. Insisting on the radical uniqueness of your work in the Middle Ages was more likely to earn you a fiery death than it was to bring you rosy plaudits. It is only in the recent past that shattering the old in order to create something new has come to be seen as the primary virtue of the artist. Cynics and naysayers deride every new band as a third-generation copy of some superior predecessor, rather than applauding the newcomers for breathing life into a genre heretofore locked away in dusty records.

Antibalas worships at the shrine of Fela Kuti. They hardly deny this, thanking him in their liner notes (along with several members of his legendary Africa 70) and emulating him with a heady mix of Afrobeat rhythms. This 18 member Brooklyn ensemble earned its stripes playing all-night parties in New York dance clubs, developing a reputation as one of the preeminent modern practitioners of Fela’s rootsy, jazz-inflected funk. Indeed, given their credentials, the brevity of Talkatif (their first album on the Ninja Tune label) surprises, clocking in at barely 40 minutes. The positive news, however, is that you’re likely to hit repeat and listen to the album again immediately.

A phased effect starts off ‘Gabe’s New Joint’ and fades into a head-nodding rhythm of basic percussion. Guitar and keyboards slowly enter, establishing the basic melody in a subdued manner. Then, the album is jolted to life by the stabbing entry of the bass, drums and horn sections. The horns begin to engage in a call and response duel with each other, restating the main theme, breaking into a solo, and snapping back into line whilst the rhythm pulses below. An auspicious beginning, but one which is utterly put to shame by the title track that follows. ‘Talkatif’ flies by at a breakneck pace, establishing a relentless rhythm that drives on for 10 minutes without losing its way. Keyboard vamps and saxophone squeals burst out of the speakers, struggling to keep pace with the frenetic tempo, until everything except congos and bass drops out of the mix. The rhythm pounds onward, slowly building layers back onto the song for a roaring finish.

Now, everything described for the first two tracks on the album could easily work to describe anything on the album. Antibalas has found a formula that works, and don’t attempt to stray far from that template. They are unquestionably talented, and have made one of the year’s most exciting and danceable albums. I’ll be interested to see what they do in future, but I’m not going to be disappointed if they make another album as solid as this one.

Kurt Deschermeier, 2003 (Source)

"They're ripping off Fela, man."

There is a law that says all reviews of Antibalas records must contain the above statement. And it's true-- this 16-piece Brooklyn collective owes a hell of a lot to the Nigerian bandleader and rabble-rouser, as they're the first to admit. They owe so much to his sound, in fact, that even people who bought the 2xCD Best of Fela Kuti at Starbucks two months ago are allowed to feel outrage at the level of mimicry on the band's second album, Talkatif. Even though these 16 musicians live and breathe Fela Kuti's music and have devoted their lives to spreading the joy that comes from sharply arranged and performed afrobeat, the punters will not stand for this wholesale appropriation of style. Down with Antibalas! Fela Forever!

Did I just say "punters"? Anyway, with that rant out of the way, let's say, just for argument's sake, that you're not really concerned with the integrity of the recorded legacy of Fela Kuti, and are instead curious about whether or not this here Talkatif album has some good music on it. I know, I know, you're actually seething over this aping of the Fela catalog, almost as bad as the number Bill Laswell pulled on Army Arrangement, but I'm going to answer this question anyway, just as a rhetorical exercise. It'll be fun.

Setting aside all issues of originality, I am here to report that Talkatif is a good album, though not a great one. First the 'good' parts: the arrangements on these seven tracks are exceptional. This unwieldy mass of trumpets, saxophones, organs, guitars, bass and drums, drums, drums seriously chug along as a unified music machine, each part working together and yet remaining separate enough to be heard and appreciated on its own. With everything going on simultaneously-- and it's quite a lot-- the music never seems crowded or muddy. The compositions are also up to snuff. Each track is built from a bass and percussion vamp; riffs and rhythm are far more important than melody. On most tracks the beat is introduced, a few horns will solo on the theme, the organ might take over for a bit, next comes a percussion break, then a restatement and time to back out. A couple of numbers also engage in shouted call-and-response vocals, which lack urgency but somehow manage to work well as songs.

Now on to the not-so-great: first, I have an image in my mind of Antibalas as an energetic live band, and much of Talkatif seems more restrained and polite than it probably ought to. While the tracks are marginally propulsive, there's a lack of fire to the music, like they were more concerned with sounding good than cutting loose. This has the odd side effect of helping Antibalas fit in at Ninja Tune, as this record seems made more for background music or head-nodding than for a real dance party. Along the same lines, the seven tracks here run just over 40 minutes, which seems a little short for the afrobeat form. With this music's semi-improvisatory nature and focus on the beat, long, drawn-out tunes that develop over time would be more appropriate. A "Live at the Great American Music Hall" follow-up could be just the thing to follow Talkatif. Still, for what it is, this isn't bad. Get yourself some Fela or pick up Antibalas, I don't give a damn.

Mark Richard-San, 2002 (Source)

"Lip Service Too Much": Antibalas Grows Up

I wanted to love Antibalas's first album, Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1, a whole lot more than I actually did. It seemed like a great idea: a multicultural Pan-American take on Fela Kuti's trademark sound! with fiery leftist politics! headed by an enigmatic loudmouth named Martín Antibalas! which means "bulletproof"!

And yeah, that album was laced with some great music, but only because it was such a slavish copy of Fela, and because Fela rocked so hard. I was a bit disappointed that Antibalas didn't try to add anything at all, and ended up sounding like a tribute band. And the lyrics, when there were any, weren't so much of a much: some vague talk about "revolution" in Soweto and Milwaukee, some stuff about how Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright were war criminals. Weak soup indeed: no one hates the left like the people farther left, but that kind of Naderrific crap is what got GWB elected.

Nevertheless, I was very interested in what Antibalas would do for a follow-up. My heart sank when I saw that it was called Talkatif -- aw, hell, more talking? But it turns out that Talkatif is actually LESS of the same, in a really good way. First of all, Martín Antibalas is now just calling himself Martín Perna. This seems like a little deal, but it's actually a big one. Remove the whole "Le band, c'est moi" thing from him, and he turns out to be an even better bandleader than he was before. The compositions are tighter, funkier, leaner -- only three go over seven minutes -- and it sounds like they've actually been practicing during their time off. They swing like 60 now; there are definite hints of Miles Davis's 1970s albums now that I never heard before. They sound great, from the massive battery of interweaving percussion lines all the way to the horn soloists. Even Martín's baritone sax work is deeper and wider this time around.

Lyrically, too, it's a stripped-down affair. Only two songs have any real words to them at all, which is a slight change from the first album. "Nyash" is about how to get one's revolutionary self out there global style, which is cool. And then there's title track/mission statement "Talkatif." This one is a grand beast of a thing; almost 10 minutes long and worth every penny, especially because it lays everything out there for us to see. Vocalist/percussionist Duke Amayo is exhorting us to avoid verbal diarrhea and useless chatter, to get our asses up off the couch and get engaged . . . but damned if it doesn't sound like he's talking to himself, to Perna, to the rest of the band. It's almost as if the whole band is acknowledging that they have a tendency to be a little too talkatif themselves, and that more grooving and less yapping will change people's minds a lot faster.

So when you pump these other instrumental tracks up, with their titles like "War Is a Crime", "Hypocrite", and "World Without Fear", you're supposed to feel all revolutionary, I guess. Do these titles, or the little screed on the inside of the CD case, or the CD cover art by Fela's artist Ghariokwu Lemi -- which my six-and-a-half-year-old daughter has decided is "the best art in the entire world" -- actually make people more political? Hell, no. But it's nice that they're there anyway. And it's nice that Antibalas seems to be back on board with the whole "free your ass and your mind will follow" scenario. But there ain't nothin' nice about these grooves: they're nasty and funky and greasy and sweet and I'm digging them all the way.

In fact, I'm thinking about volunteering with the neighborhood program again. Enough of this talkatif crap, sitting around complaining about the unfairness of the world and our racist classist fascist power structure; it's time to do something about it. And this is a very appropriate soundtrack for that.

Matt Cibula, 2002 (Source)


1 Gabe's New Joint
2 Talkatif
3 Hypocrite
4 World Without Fear
5 War Is A Crime
6 Nyash
7 N.E.S.T.A. 75



Ophir Kutiel (born 1982), professionally known as Kutiman, is a musician, composer, producer and animator from Israel. He is best known for creating the online music video project ThruYOU, as well as his self-titled album and collaboration with many other Israeli artists including Hadag Nahash.

Ophir Kutiel was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Zichron Yaacov. He studied piano since the age of six, and then drums and guitar at age 14. When Kutiel was 18, he moved to Tel Aviv to study Jazz at Rimon Music College.

While working at a local convenience store in Tel Aviv, Kutiel tuned into a college radio station that was playing music that was much different than the classical jazz he had been used to playing. Soon after, Sabbo, another Israeli artist and current music partner, introduced him to afrobeat and funk, including the sounds of James Brown and Fela Kuti. His obsession with Fela Kuti and the fact that his last name was similar led him to create the stage-name of Kutiman. He traveled to Jamaica to research reggae and afrobeat and work with Stephen and Damien Marley.

Kutiman was signed to Melting Pot Music, based in Cologne in 2006. Soon After, his first single, "No Groove Where I Come From" was released and soon after, he released a hit song with Karolina of Habanot Nechama, "Music is Ruling My World". His eponymous debut album - which received an 8.2 from Pitchfork and a 7/10 from PopMatters - was released in the fall of 2007. Under the Radar picked Kutiman as one of the "Artists to Watch in 2008" , along with Glasvegas and MGMT.

Kutiman has worked with many other Israeli artists and is currently working on arrangement and composition of Karolina's solo album. He has also created animated videos for his song, "Chaser" and Hadag Nahash's "Eze Kif".



know music I like when I hear it. I've never been able to enumerate a list of things I like or don't like in music, and I don't always necessarily know why I like something-- it just flips that switch we all have inside of us. Ultimately, I don't think it's important to know why we like the music we do, because the act of liking it is self-justifying. I'm saying all this in part because I couldn't immediately think of a way to describe what's so great about Kutiman. I know one thing, though: I like this.

Ophir Kutiel (the Kutiman moniker stems from his family name, but could as easily be read as admiration for Nigerian Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti) is a solo act from Tel Aviv, Israel, a one-man band who occasionally brings in his friends when he thinks they can improve the sound or he needs some horns (he needs them often). His music is something like Israel itself, a mishmash of things from all over the world, the old and the new side by side, a melting pot with a common overarching identity. He's schooled in the funk and fusion of the 1970s, Afrorock and Afrobeat, heavy psych from the 60s, hip-hop and modern R&B, a bit of reggae and dub, a couple decades of electronic music, and the general art of the groove.

This comes together in a fantastic, head-spinning debut album, a psyched-up groove monster that can't decide between vintage and modern and instead just has it both ways. It works in the same way a lot of releases on the Ubiquity label, like Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra or Will Holland's Quantic, work, by finding that switch that makes you forget about the why and just enjoy the what. It opens with a light appetizer in instrumental "Bango Fields", a basic funk track topped with a squiggle of ring-modulated analog synth that suggests Kutiel might be able to make a pretty good living as a hip-hop producer, but that barely prepares the listener for the album as a whole.

"No Reason For You", one of several tracks that features vocals by Elran Dekel, follows with a crushing Led Zeppelin beat, heavy Fela horn section, huge, sweeping chorus, and a towering, psychedelic hook that sounds like a cross between a choir and a string section but actually probably comes from a synthesizer. The synthesizer on "Once You're Near Me" is more playful, sort of an electro-exotica hook for Dekel to play off. He's a pretty versatile singer, giving a pointed, almost ominous performance on "No Reason", while his contribution to "Once You're Near Me" sounds like a lounge signer sucked into an echo chamber.

Kutiel's other principle vocal collaborator, Karolina, has a voice sort of like a melting trumpet-- you can tell she's listened to a least a few Billie Holiday records. She sounds especially great on the jazz-inflected "Trumpet Woman", wherein she imitates the titular instrument to great effect over a miles-thick bass line and chilled-out drumbeat. She gets a little more down and dirty on the spectacular funk workout "Music Is Ruling My World", given a kickass drum break and a big horn section to duke it out with. Even when the album moves away from funk workouts, it remains engrossing. "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" provides a chilly interlude at the album's midpoint, with muted trumpet and saxophone wandering through an R&B fog driven by a downtempo funk beat. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is DJ Shadow's "What Does Your Soul Look Like? (part 1)."

Somewhere in all that, there are a whole lot of reasons to like this record. It's an album that feels right all over the place-- in the car, at home late at night, on a large soundsystem at a party...Kutiman takes all his influences, gives them a swirl and emerges with a great debut that hits that elusive switch over and over.

— Joe Tangari, February 27, 2008


The debut record from Tel Aviv’s Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel is the late ‘70s funk album nirvana crate-diggers spend their lives searching for. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t recorded, mixed, and released until 2007. More shocking, Ophir himself hadn’t even heard of Fela Kuti and James Brown till about five years previous, when a DJ pal finally introduced him to his destiny via a small stash of classic vinyl. Gawd damn, if he isn’t making up for lost time.

With this proudly self-titled effort, Kutiman distils the finest freak afrobeat, psychedelic soul, and West African riddim with Patrick Cowley “Sea Hunt” disco synths into a full-length rubber chicken three shades funkier than the Quantic Soul Orchestra’s Tropidelico. What’s amazing is—with a little help from his friends here and there—the whole thing is just Kutiel jamming with himself on a PC. It’s unbelievable how authentic and fresh it is at face value, let alone the work of a multi-instrumentalist basement producer in the Holy Land, where the entire scene for this vein of music can fit in Ophir’s bedroom. Jazzanova, Gilles Peterson, and Diplo have already caught the Kutiman fever, and it’s only going to keep spreading. Keep on truckin’, soul brother.


Kutiman is the debut solo release of Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel, an Israeli musician/producer who has become well-known in music circles as a multi-instrumentalist and boardman for any number of djs. Kutiman’s self-titled release is a cottage project --- think Moby, in his apartment, doing what he does --- which consists of live recordings, some solo and others with some of the musicians he has worked with before (MC Karolina and Sangit, among others). The result is a surprisingly varied and engaging work that not only satisfies on first take but also rewards repeated plays.

The primary references here would be Everything But The Girl with the (occasional) minimalism of Massive Attack. Kutiman, however, is a bit more playful, venturing into funk territory (No Groove Where I Come From, Chaser, Escape Route) and doing so quite well when he does. My personal favorites tend to be the tracks with Karolina ---Losing It, Trumpet Woman, and Music Is Ruling My World, with Losing It, in particular, incorporating a strong afro-beat styling over Karolina’s vocals. It’s really hard to pick a winner, however, particularly when you have a disc with so many strong tracks, in such a variance of styles. I Just Wanna Make Love To You --- not the Willie Dixon composition --- begins with a dreamy, repetitive and smoky melody, with Chaka Moon crooning the title over and over --- before abruptly turning into a rambunctious instrumental jam of guitars, horns, and keys that strains against the constrictions of the tempo before settling down again for a few seconds. Once You’re Near Me, featuring Elran Dekel, is, I swear, a take-off on Our Day Will Come, by Ruby & The Romantics, at least until mid-point, where Kutiman takes a left turn into funkland with a smoking hot trumpet solo over Dekel’s rap.

Kutiman, unlike a number of projects of this type, never gets bogged down in the gravitas of its own self-importance. Kutiel sounds as if he’s having fun without getting silly or stupid, and without wasting his considerable musical chops as well. Kutiman is that rare dance project that is stimulating, engaging, and entertaining from beginning to end.


01. Bango Fields
02. No Reason For You
03. Take A Minute
04. No Groove Where I Come From
05. Losing It
06. Skit
07. I Just Want To Make Love To You
08. Chaser
09. Once Your Near Me
10. Escape Route
11. Trumpet Woman
12. Music Is Ruling My World
13. And Out

Shokazoba - Think Like A Hammer


Shokazoba is a collective of musicians who’ve come together to write and perform a very unique blend of Jazz/Funk with a West African undertone and a conscious political message. The Afrobeat style, pioneered by the Nigerian anti-colonialist Fela Kuti, has been the main influence of our project while merging in many other styles to create our own unique sound. It’s extremely funky qualities and layered poly-rhythms make Afrobeat our desired focus of our music. The ensemble is made up of a very special group of musicians from Western MA currently or formerly involved with such projects as The 5th Pocket, Somebody’s Closet, Baba Olatunji, World Beat Ensemble, Syzygy, The Primate Fiasco, Gaiah Roots. The band’s current incarnation garnered the Valley Advocate “Best of 2007” award for World Music and “Best of 2008″ award for Funk.



01. Habeas Corpus 9:10
02. Wake Up Call 8:59
03. Expand People 11:12
04. Guernica 11:05