THE ROOT: FELA, AFROBEAT AND AFROBEATS!

 THE ROOT: FELA, AFROBEAT AND AFROBEATS!

When you hear Afrobeat what comes to mind? Drums and it sounds from Africa, right? Being a writer from Africa, Nigeria, let me pretend a bit like i don’t know so i can nicely take you through this journey… let’s ride!

AfroBeat is a genre of Music that developed in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s a combination of highlife and Fuji, mixed with American jazz and funk. Components of Afrobeat include big bands, long instrumental solos, and complex jazzy rhythms. There is a slight difference between AFROBEAT & AFROBEATS, almost unnoticeable but while the former is Fela’s and was used to shun materialism, criticize and chastise political excesses, the latter typically avoids such topics, making Afrobeats less politically charged.

AfroBeat has been around since the 60s while Afrobeats came into play around year 2000. Afrobeat has a well defined genre while Afrobeats is a diverse fusion of numerous different genres such as Palm-wine music, Hiplife, Hiphop, Dancehall, Soca, Jùjú music, British house music, Highlife, R&B, Ndombolo, Naija beats, Azonto etc.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ORIGINATOR OF AFROBEAT

Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti also known as Fela Anikulapo kuti (Anikulapo—”having control over death), Abami Eda, Afrobeat King etc. Born on the 15th day of October, 1938 in Abeokuta to Mr Isreal Oludotun and Mrs Frances Abigail Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Fela was from a very influential, Educational and Religious Family; At a very young age he learnt how to play piano and drums and led his school choir.

In 1950s, FELA decided to move to London, England to study medicine, but he ended up attending the Trinity College of Music. During his life time Fela was a Nigerian known for pioneering AfroBeat, he equally was a multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, political activist, Pan-Africanist and so on.

Remilekun Taylor was his First wife who he married in 1960 while he was still at Trinity  college of music in LONDON. She was a British born woman of Nigerian and African-American linage and had his first three children. In 1978 Fela made history again but this time it had nothing to do with his musical career, he married twenty-seven (27) women in a traditional wedding ceremony in Lagos on the same day, they all lived with him in his compound called Kalakuta Rebublic. Most of this women were his dancers, singers/his workers, they were already living with him before the marital ceremony and Fela made it official/legal inorder to protect his family from false accusations that he kidnapped them.

Fela was jailed by Muhammad Buhari’s Administration in 1984, on the charge of currency smuggling after his release from prison in 1986, he divorced most of his wives. It’s believed he had just seven children which are; YENI KUTI, FEMI KUTI, SOLA KUTI, KUNLE KUTI, SHALEWA KUTI, MOTUNRAYO KUTI and SEUN KUTI.

He established Afrika Shrine in 1970 and was in existence till it was burnt in 1977. It was named African Shrine due to the fact that he loved calling his performance ground a shrine. His first Son and daughter YENI & FEMI rebuilt it and now co manage it now. A yearly celebration themed FELABRATION takes place yearly to celebrate the life of the legend.

Some notable things about him, although born in a Christian home, he gave up his religion to indigenous religion and he always spoke the truth about the government and issues affecting Africa and the world through his music before his death on the 2nd of August 1997. Fela was a bold, Charismatic and a non conformist. Femi and Seun Kuti took after their father and have done exceptionally well with so many awards and even got nominated for the Grammy’s severally.

Discography of Fela’s music;

1970 FELA FELA FELA.
1971 FELA’S LONDON.
1971 WHY BLACK MEN DEY SUFFER.
1971 LIVE.
1972 STRATAVARIOUS.
1972 NA POI (PART 1 & 2).
1972 OPEN AND CLOSE.
1972 SHAKARA.
1972 ROFOROFO FIGHT.
1972 QUESTION JAM.
1973 AFRODASIAC.
1973 GENTLEMEN.
1974 ALAGBON CLOSE.
1975 NOISE FOR VENDOR MOUTH.
1975 CONFUSION.
1975 EVERYTHING SCATTER.
1975 HE MISS ROAD.
1975 EXPENSIVE SHIT.
1976 UNNECESARRY BEGGING.
1976 KALAKUTA SHOW.
1976 UPSIDEDOWN.
1976 IKOYI BLINDNESS.
1976 BEFORE I JUMP LIKE MONKEY GIVE ME BANANA.
1976 EXCUSE O.
1976 ZOMBIE.
1976 YELLOW FEVER/NA POI.
1977 OPPOSITE PEOPLE.
1977 FEAR NOT FOR MAN.
1977 STALEMATE.
1977 OBSERVATION NO CRIME.
1977 LIVE!!! AT KALAKUTA REPUBLIC.
1977 I GO SHOUT PLENTY.
1977 NO AGREEMENT.
1977 SORROW TEARS AND BLOOD.
1978 SHUFFLING AND SHMILLING.
1979 UNKNOWN SOLDIER.
1979 VIP(VAGABOND IN POWER).
1980 COFFIN FOR HEAD OF STATE .
1980 I.T.T(INTERNATIONAL THIEF THIEF).
1980 AUTHORITY STEALING.
1980 MUSIC OF MANY COLOR.
1981 BLACK PRESIDENT.
1981 ORIGINAL SUFFER HEAD.
1983 LADY.
1983 PERAMBULATOR.
1983 LIVE IN AMSTERDAM.
1983 FELA ANIKULAPOI=KUTI AND THE AFRICANS IN 70.
1985 ARMY ARRANGEMENTS.
1986 TEACHER DON’T TEACH ME NONSENSE.
1986 I GO SHOUT PLENTY.
1989 BEAST OF ALL NATION.
1989 O.D.O.O(OVERTAKE DON OVERTAKE OVERTAKE).
1992 U.S(UNDERGROUND SYSTEM).
1996 BUY AMERICA.
1998 PERAMBULATOR.
1999 THE BEST BEST OF FELA KUTI.
2001 KOOLA LOBITOS 64-68.
2004 THE UNDERGROUND SPIRITUAL GAME.
2007 ANTHOLOGY 1.
2008 LAGOS BABY.
2009 ANTHOLOGY 2.
2012 LIVE IN DETROIT,1986.

Tony Allen was Fela’s drummer and musical director of Fela’s band from 1968-1979, he played an important role in AfroBeat and even Fela once said “Without Tony Allen, there would be no AfroBeat. He passed-on on the 30th of April 2020 at the age of 79.

Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Made Kuti, Davido, Timaya, Yemi Alade, Falz, Niniola, Franck Biyoung & Massak, Newen Afrobeat, Eddy Taylor & the Heartphones etc all built on the foundation created by Fela “AFROBEAT” and have done so well for themselves.
Ending this with a rhetorical question, – What will you be remembered for?

Funbi Kamzee

Funbi Kamzee is specially made by God, a private figure and an ambivert who loves adventures,cooking,writing and interacting with people, friendly but highly principled.

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