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Dozens of Fela Kuti albums available for free streaming
02.10.2014
04:33 am

Topics:
Activism
Music
Politics

Tags:
Fela Kuti
Afrobeat


 
A Metafilter user going by the wonderful handle “flapjax at midnite” has alerted the world to the existence of a Bandcamp page full of complete Fela Kuti LPs. 48 of them, in fact, which I don’t believe is even his complete discography.

If you’re unfamiliar, good lord take this opportunity! Fela (1938-1997) was an inestimably important African artist who began making music in the late ‘50s, and in the ‘60s pioneered a compelling fusion of psych-rock, funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian music that he dubbed “Afrobeat.” His music dealt with themes of social justice, which, as he was a Pan-African and a Socialist, got him in major and repeated deep shit in the repressive milieu of Nigeria. The mid ’70s album Zombie, for example, was a blistering attack on the Nigerian military, whose response to the insult included fatally defenestrating his mother in a brutal raid on the Lagos commune in which he, his family, and his band lived. The 1989 release Beasts of No Nation—the recording that served as my introduction to his work—was a lengthy and stunning piece he wrote after being freed from a stint in prison on a politically motivated and trumped up currency smuggling charge.
 

 

 
Now, as heroic as his political struggles were, the man was not unproblematic. It’d be plain wrong to lionize him for his musical innovations and political engagement while leaving out that he was a polygamist who could be disturbingly misogynistic.

There are plenty of good entry points into Fela’s work, but among my favorites is the absolutely KILLER Live With Ginger Baker. The Cream drummer’s African sojurn is a story unto itself, and had no small impact on the development of that continent’s rock music in the ’70s.
 

 
Lastly, here’s some great footage from Catalonian television in the ‘80s, mixing interview material with a live concert, a combination which imparts a good sense of the man and his work.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Africadelic: Incredible live performance of Manu Dibango’s ‘Soul Makossa’
11.26.2012
06:20 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Afrobeat
Tony Allen
Manu Dibango


 
Earlier today, after I’d complimented Niall on his excellent post of The Flirtations video, we were bullshitting over email about music and Manu Dibango’s 1972 proto-disco classic “Soul Makossa” came up (this is where Michael Jackson stole the “mama se, mama-sa, mama-koss-sa” refrain he used to great effect in “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”) and I wondered if there was a vintage video performance of the song.

That I didn’t find, but I did find a cracking live version of “Soul Makossa” recorded last year at the Africa Live Roll Back Malaria concert (with the great Tony Allen sounding like five drummers). The Cameroonian sax god will be turning 79 in a few weeks, but you can’t tell he’s pushing 80 from this clip, that’s for sure.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Meet Lagbaja, the masked king of Afrobeat music
11.06.2010
11:09 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Fela Kuti
Nigeria
Afrobeat
Lagbaja

image
 
Bisade Ologunde isn’t the only masquerading musician out there of course, but the Nigerian sax man and bandleader is definitely one of the most intriguing.

Lagos-born and Manhattan-based musician took the name Lagbaja (meaning “anonymous” or “faceless one” in Yoruba) when he started his career in the early ‘90s. Wearing a variety of masks onstage falls right in line with carnival tradition of his Yoruba tribe, and has enhanced his appeal among Nigerians. Ologunde’s hip-hop-era take on Afrobeat—he’s taken to naming his style “Africano,” after the title of his fourth album—takes in aspects of jazz and modern R&B. And as seen below in this excellently choreographed video, deals with some of the same issues…
 

 
After the jump: a clip from Lagbaja’s intense live show in Ife, near Lagos…
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment