God and the Ditto Heads

Day before yesterday I got into a debate with my friends son. Turns out he is a Ditto Head, a devout follower of Rush Limbaugh. Like his mother, this man was very intelligent, and tried to best me. He was surprised this was not easy. Indeed, he failed. I kept referring to my family and the Radical Republicans who were socialists. My niece, Drew Benton is the Heir to the amazing Preston-Hart family tree. She has the God Gene.

After argument, I could still hear it continue in this man’s mind. Am I a mind reader? Yes? This gift isolates me the most, because people can’t get away with anything around me – and they try that much harder! Its’s a matter of free will with them.

Anyway, I heard myself tell this man;

“You Ditto Heads have spent 200 billion dollars trying to get – ME! Just me! Because, I am your man! I am the dude Rush loves to hate, the dude who made Rush filthy rich.”

In 1969 my father helped me get my white canvas tent down form Mount Tamalpias. Driving along the coast I looked out to see and said this with out words coming out my mouth;

“My father’s father, father, father – is dead!”

Two days later, I read that my teacher, Meher Baba, was dead. I would wonder if Baba “father” had made me his heir. Was I now – God?

I was arguing with Vic who did not have a spiritual bone in his body. My daughter takes after him. They both have the narcissistic Gene, which is liken to the God Gene, but, is a manifestations of the God Gene that is told in the Cain and Able story. Cain killed Able because he was closer to God. There was a test that will be published with my book – if I live to publish it!

I told this man my brother. Mark Presco, invented all Limbaugh’s arguments. Mark thinks he is God. So does his son – though Cean will deny it. Cean married a Filipino woman. Above is a photo of me with Carlos, the son of Carlos Moore. His mother is half Filipino. She is Marilyn Reed’s sister who lived in Paris for many years. Marilyn lived with her for several months. Black radicals would fill her sister’s apartment. When Shanna disappeared, Marilyn’s mother found her through Eldridge Cleaver the Black Panther who became a evangelical.
Shanna helped author the biography of Fela Kuti who was seen as a African Messiah by the Black Panthers of Oakland.

In 1970 I became involved with black radicals who lived in my building on Beacon Hill. At first they were going to kill me because they thought I was a Beacon Hill witch who was battling with Shahib and Sharema, a black couple from New Orleans. But then our neighbor, the socialist, shared with them the pamphlets we got at a Baba meeting where the film of Baba’s stay in South Carolina was shown. Then, I saved Jimbo’s life after the pot pie he was cooking boiled over and put out the flames in the oven. Jimbo had fallen asleep. The apartment was filled with gas. I woke him by gently shaking him. He awoke and I said;

“We have to leave your apartment and go into the hall.”

Jimbo later said he thought he was dead and Jesus had come to take him to heaven. I was now one with them – and then some. We made a PBS pilot called ‘Religion in America’. I was taking the Mafia to court at the time. I won my case after they failed to kill me.

In 1987 I took the vow of the Nazarite and baptized myself. I was driven from church and Bible study for asking too many good questions. Those who come in contact with me have their God Gene even more activated. Since most people secretly believe they are God, and run their creation through the alleged Son of God so as to have a means of disguise, rather then own their own creation, they allow themselves to become Ditto Heads by every Satan that comes along. Rush Limbaugh, is a Great Satan. I tell you this with complete authority.
Rush has been after me for a long time. I challenge hin to a debate.

Rush has the anti-God narcisstic gene. Yet, 30 million evangelicals follow him as if he was their messiah. Why?

Here’s you chance, Rush, to debate God almighty! Perhaps my fellow Nazarite will accompany me?

The Black Panthers were born in the great wave of God Energy in Oakland after I died and said;

“I am!”

Patrice has a son who father was a Black Panther in Chicago. I met this son’s wife, who met her husband’s aunts, who were Black Panthers, and knew Angela Davis.

Shanna did an extensive genealogy of her Filipeno tree. I am almost certain that she is kin to the mother of my brother’s two grandson he refuses to see.

All in God’s family?

Jon

The God of the Nazarite

America in 1969 was at the peak of its Civil Rights movement. Fela met and fell in love with Sandra Smith (now Sandra Isidore), whom was  to leave an indelible mark on him. She introduced him to the ideologies of the Black Panthers, the reform of the Civil Rights activists and gave him books written by Black radicals. Fela has said of this indoctrination, “Sandra gave me the education I wanted to know. She was the one who opened my eyes.”   “He was very important to many people,” says Sandra Isadore. “Right now, I think about those people that he left behind. Those in the compound that he gave employment to. Those that he took in off the streets. Those that would not have had a place to stay or a job or a future had it not been for Fela. Fela was a very generous man. This is the man that I know. He gave opportunities to many. At the same time, he was like a common man. He was very simple. He didn’t need a lot of flair. I know it sounds strange, but . . . when he came [to America], I said ‘Fela, you’re a star, I should hire a limousine.’ He said, ‘No. Can all my band members go in the limo?’ If everybody couldn’t go in the limousine, then he couldn’t have it. He would not be separated. He didn’t put himself above any of them or anyone.” He lived more life in 58 years than most could in 116. “Fela will make no apologies for nothing,” says Sandra. “He lived his life his way, the way he wanted to live it. It can definitely be said he had a full life. He twisted his shoes his way, nobody told him what to do. I fought with him on many occasions. It was not easy dealing with Fela Anikulapo Kuti. From the very beginning it was a fight, but it was fun. It’s the end of an era for me.”

Fela Kuti:
God Rest The Godfather

Pan-African super star, anti-military dictatorship activist, and social maverick, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was one of the brightest stars of the Nigerian and international music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Fela won a reputation for openly smoking marijuana, sleeping with large numbers of women, and dressing only in his underpants, but his influence on contemporary music cannot be over-estimated. A true original, no other artist has his precise combination of skills.

Fela had the groove sense of James Brown and Prince’s poise as an arranger; he was as articulate as Dylan, as charismatic as Bob Marley, and – for a time – as popular as any of those artists at their peak. 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 joint ever smouldering between his teeth, he conveyed both righteous indignation and a radical message in such famous rants as Teacher, Don’t Teach Me No Nonsense, Black President,and Coffin For Head of State.

Fela was born in 1938 in Abeokuta, a Yoruba town in western Nigeria about 50 miles north of the capital, Lagos. 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. As a teenager Fela learned to work the saxophone and, at the age of 21, he went to London to study music and formed his first band.

He returned home in 1963 and formed the Koola Lobitos band, playing a fusion of jazz and hi-life with little success. He spent time in Ghana and the United States, where he developed a strong interest in politics and civil rights. His concept for the politically charged fusion of rock with African rhythms into a blend known as Afro-beat came together in the late ’60s, after he heard the Sierra Leonean singer Geraldo Pino and encountered the ideas of Malcolm X. On a trip to California in 1969, Fela met members of the radical Black Panthers and Koola Lobitos metamorphosed into Nigeria ’70 (later called Africa ’70 and finally Egypt ’80) over a famous series of sessions in Los Angeles.

Afro-beat became a huge phenomenon in Nigeria, where Fela settled for good in 1973, and he swiftly became a big star. Between 1975 and 1977, Afrika ’70 recorded 17 albums – including the classic No Agreement – and these recordings spread their unique blend of funk vamping, jazz improvisation and Nigerian high-life around the world. Fela eventually recorded some 133 albums and served as a godfather to other African artists. “He is a legend,” Malian singer Salif Keita said. “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.”

Afro-beat was perfect for live performance and Fela was a hypnotic performer. 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. 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 improvisational excursion.

As his popularity grew, Fela utilized his platform for ever-more-public anti-government agitation and became notorious for his promiscuity. A famous lover who married 27 women at a ceremony in 1978, he lived in a polygamous commune in the Lagos suburb of Ikeja, which he called ‘Kalakuta Republic’ and opened a nightclub, The Shrine, in a working class district of Nigeria’s humming commercial capital.

A bastion of freedom in what was becoming a military state, The Shrine was a place where the people could go to hang out, smoke herb, get loose and say and do what they liked. Fela delared that his club was “the abode of the gods of Africa. It has its own powers. You cannot enter if you have a bad mind.” Those who were lucky enough to visit The Shrine in its heyday would find a capacity crowd jammed between the corrugated-iron walls, wooden cages in which Fela’s dancers gyrated, and stalls where spliffs were on sale. When Fela himself finally appeared, long after his band had taken to the stage, he added to the haze as he lit an enormous joint (the first of many), before launching into a searing set, demonstrating why he was so important to African music.

In 1976, Fela topped the charts with Zombie, which describes government soldiers as no more than machines following orders, and the following year he got an official response when 1,000 zombies burned the Kalakuta compound to the ground. His mother was badly injured in the raid and died six months later. Overnight, Fela became known as much for his politics as for his music.

After military rule ended in 1979, Fela Kuti established his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People). With his entourage of wives and girlfriends, Fela went to the ruling junta’s headquarters and placed his mother’s coffin on the steps, saying he wanted to demonstrate that the power of the state was impotent compared to the indomitable power of the human spirit.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, during Nigeria’s forcibly aborted attempts by civilians to establish a democratic government, Fela never shied away from stating his opposition to military rule. His blunt response to the rise of conservative politicians such as Reagan and Thatcher was Beasts of No Nation.

In 1984, Fela was arrested at the airport as he was preparing to leave for a US tour on what Amnesty International described as ‘spurious’ charges of illegally exporting foreign currency. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, but released after eighteen months when General Muhammed Buhari was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babangida, who freed Fela but did not escape his criticism.

Rumours about Fela’s health began to circulate in 1995, and though he gave infrequent and usually brief performances at The Shrine, he no longer toured. In his final two years Fela made little effort to challenge the next in Nigeria’s succession of military dictators, General Sani Abacha. Even when his brother – Beko Ransome-Kuti, an outspoken political dissident – was sentenced in 1996 to 15 years in prison for his involvement in an alleged coup plot, Fela stayed at home and waited for death.

He refused treatment for his deteriorating health, rejecting both Western and traditional Nigerian medical services, but continued using cannabis despite the best efforts of General Bamayi, head of The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, who said he hoped to reform Fela’s character and wean him away from marijuana. On 9 April, 1997, in a raid on The Shrine, Fela was arrested along with about 100 others, including several of his wives. The zombies had one last go at forcing him to publicly renounce the holy herb, but eventually gave up and released him. “I have been smoking for 40 years,” Fela said. “It helps my music. People know I smoke worldwide. It is not drugs, it is grass.”

To his amusement, local newspapers reported his death prematurely, but Fela finally died on Saturday August 2, 1997. “The immediate cause of death was heart failure, but there were many complications arising from the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome,” announced Fela’s older brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, who is a former deputy director-general of the World Health Organization.’The Music Legend Of Our Time, Fela, Joins His Ancestors’, reported the front page of the Nigerian Sunday Times in heavy black type.

During his heyday, Fela had changed part of his family name from Ransome to Anikulapo, meaning ‘one who keeps death in his pouch’ in his 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,’ the Punch newspaper commented.

Fela’s body lay at the Tafawa Balewa Square, southeast of Lagos, for the public to pay their respects. The transparent casket showed the great man nattily attired in multi-coloured shirt, with a wrap of his favourite smoke propped between his fingers. When he was brought back to Ikeja for burial on Tuesday, 14th of August, the 17 kilometer journey took five and a half hours as around a million people lined the route to say farewell to a stubborn hero, one who was committed to a righteous path and blessed with the rare ability to translate that passion into intense, evangelical music.

Seems like watching Michael Veal’s Fela! Co-produced by Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett is not enough, the $11 million Fela! Backed by Jay Z, Will Smith and co be a helping hand on the movie of the story of the legendary Fela Kuti by Hollywood film production company.
It all started when the off-broadway was produced in 2008 which features Sahr Ngaujah as Fela. The 2008 off-broadway production received positive review generally from critics like New York Times as well as numerous awards.
Later on, it was premiered on Broadway as a result of the success the off-broadway attained. This time, Nguajah and Kevin Mambo played the Fela’s role since the role was highly demanded. Rumour has it that, D’banj was also screened for Fela’s role in Fela! But was screened out.

Rush Limbaugh Ditto Head 131 up, 156 down
When the Rush Limbaugh show started in 1988, many callers would express how much they loved the show. It took a lot of air time, so he asked them to just say “dittos” to agree with previous callers who like the show. It doesn’t mean that they agree with everything he says. If you were one of his 30 million listeners you would know this.

Fela also composed what he called ‘his first African hit song’ titled, ‘My Lady Frustration’, under a new band name; Nigeria 70. This was  well received by American audiences.
It is best to listen to Fela himself as he describes the process of his transformation after one evening of argument. Says Fela: “… I must have said something because she said, `Fela, don’t say that. Africans taught the white man. Look, the Africans have history”, I said, `They don’t have… No history man. We are slaves’. She got up and brought me a book. She said I should read it”. “Sandra gave me the education I wanted to know. She is the one who spoke to me about Africa. For the first time I heard things I’d never heard before about Africa”. Thus, the genesis of the myth. The new knowledge that Fela acquired, he would try henceforth to translate it into the medium of his music. He would set a whole generation ablaze. And because such fires of enlightenment held dangerous implications for those, outside and within, who would rather keep Africa enslaved, singing senseless hossanhas, Fela had turned himself unwittingly into a marked man. “I came back home with the intent to change the whole system. I didn’t know I was going to have… such horrors! I didn’t know they gonna give me such opposition because of my new Africanism. How could I have known? As soon as I got back home, I started to preach…. and my music did start changing according to how I experienced the life and culture of my people”. The first task then, after the lessons of Sandra had sunk in, was to find a new and appropriate mode of music to express his new understanding. Clearly the imitations of jazz and highlife of the Koola Lobitos had become inadequate, and so had the usual soporific lyrics of pop music. The now enlightened musician sought around for a new source of inspiration. James Brown, Victor Olaiya had become turned, in the new dispensation, to obsolete gods. Fela searched for something more ancient and yet more modern, closer to Africa and more authentic. He was later to find a model at last in the music of Ambrose Campbell, that that genius who has influenced more than a generation of African musicians.
Keyed up with all his new ideas, he returned to Nigeria. By 1971, he had changed the name of his band from Nigeria 70 to Africa 70, and his night club from Afrospot to the Shrine. His music equally reflected the change surging through his mental state of mind. He at last had his first National hit record with ‘Jeun Koku’ (Eat and Die), with the new direction of his music.  Fela also wrote (he paid for the space) for the Daily Times, a column titled ‘Chief Priest Says’. Here, he blatantly composed vitriolic speeches against the Nigerian government. This laid a firm foundation for future clashes between the two.  

Fela KutiFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
“Fela” redirects here. For the Broadway musical, see Fela!.
Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti in 1970
Background information
Birth name Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti
Also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Fela Ransome-Kuti
Born (1938-10-15)15 October 1938
Abeokuta, Nigeria
Died 2 August 1997(1997-08-02) (aged 58)
Genres Afrobeat, Highlife
Occupations Singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, activist
Instruments Saxophone, vocals, keyboards, trumpet, guitar, drums
Years active 1958–1997
Labels Barclay/PolyGram, MCA/Universal, Celluloid, EMI Nigeria, JVC, Wrasse, Shanachie, Knitting Factory
Associated acts Africa ’70, Egypt ’80, Koola Lobitos, Nigeria ’70, Hugh Masekela, Ginger Baker, Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Roy Ayers, Lester Bowie
Website http://www.felaproject.net

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938 — 2 August 1997), or simply Fela ([feˈlæ]), was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick.[1]

[edit] Biography[edit] Early life and careerFela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti[2] in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria[3] into a middle-class family. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers.[4] His brothers, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, both medical doctors, are well known in Nigeria. Fela was a first cousin to the Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife.[5] In 1960, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola). In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He played for some time with Victor Olaiya and his All Stars.[6]

In 1967, he went to Ghana to think up a new musical direction.[4] That was when Kuti first called his music Afrobeat.[4] In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States. While there, Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Izsadore)—a partisan of the Black Panther Party — which would heavily influence his music and political views and renamed the band Nigeria ’70. Soon, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the U.S. without work permits. The band then performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions.

[edit] 1970sAfter Fela and his band returned to Nigeria, the band was renamed The Africa ’70, as lyrical themes changed from love to social issues.[5] He then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for many connected to the band that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state. Fela set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and then the Afrika Shrine, where he performed regularly. Fela also changed his middle name to Anikulapo (meaning “he who carries death in his pouch”),[7] stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name. The recordings continued, and the music became more politically motivated.[citation needed]

Fela’s music became very popular among the Nigerian public and Africans in general.[8] In fact, he made the decision to sing in Pidgin English so that his music could be enjoyed by individuals all over Africa, where the local languages spoken are very diverse and numerous. As popular as Fela’s music had become in Nigeria and elsewhere, it was also very unpopular with the ruling government, and raids on the Kalakuta Republic were frequent. During 1972, Ginger Baker recorded Stratavarious with Fela appearing alongside Bobby Gass.[9] Around this time, Kuti was becoming more involved in Yoruba religion.[10]

In 1977, Fela and the Afrika ’70 released the album Zombie, a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela’s studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Fela claimed that he would have been killed had it not been for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Fela’s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’s coffin to the Dodan Barracks in Lagos, General Olusegun Obasanjo’s residence, and to write two songs, “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier”, referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.[11]

Fela and his band then took residence in Crossroads Hotel as the Shrine had been destroyed along with his commune. In 1978, Fela married twenty-seven women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping only twelve simultaneous wives.[12] The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song “Zombie”, which led to Fela being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Fela’s musicians deserted him, due to rumors that Fela was planning to use the entire proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.

Despite the massive setbacks, Fela was determined to come back. He formed his own political party, which he called Movement of the People. In 1979, he put himself forward for President in Nigeria’s first elections for more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela created a new band called Egypt ’80 and continued to record albums and tour the country. He further infuriated the political establishment by dropping the names of ITT vice-president Moshood Abiola and then General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed titled “I.T.T. (International Thief-Thief)”.

[edit] 1980s and beyondIn 1984, Muhammadu Buhari’s government, of which Kuti was a vocal opponent, jailed him on a charge of currency smuggling which Amnesty International and others denounced as politically motivated.[13] Amnesty designated him a prisoner of conscience,[14] and his case was also taken up by other human rights groups. After 20 months, he was released from prison by General Ibrahim Babangida. On his release he divorced his twelve remaining wives, saying that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness”.[12]

Once again, Fela continued to release albums with Egypt ’80, made a number of successful tours of the United States and Europe and also continued to be politically active. In 1986, Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers. In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation album that depicts on its cover U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha.

His album output slowed in the 1990s, and eventually he stopped releasing albums altogether. In 1993, he and four members of the Afrika ’70 organization were arrested for murder. The battle against military corruption in Nigeria was taking its toll, especially during the rise of dictator Sani Abacha. Rumors were also spreading that he was suffering from an illness for which he was refusing treatment.

[edit] DeathOn 3 August 1997, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, already a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, stunned the nation by announcing his younger brother’s death a day earlier from Kaposi’s sarcoma which was brought on by AIDS. More than a million people attended Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. A new Africa Shrine has opened since Fela’s death in a different section of Lagos under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.

[edit] MusicMain article: Afrobeat
The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is a complex fusion of Jazz, Funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native “tinker pan” African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masekela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz.[15] The importance of the input of Tony Allen (Fela’s drummer of twenty years) in the creation of Afrobeat cannot be overstated. Fela once famously stated that “without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat”.

Afrobeat is characterized by a fairly large band with many instruments, vocals, and a musical structure featuring jazzy, funky horn sections. The “endless groove” is used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted West African-style guitar, and melodic bass guitar riffs are repeated throughout the song. Commonly, interlocking melodic riffs and rhythms are introduced one by one, building the groove bit-by-bit and layer-by-layer to an astonishing melodic and polyrhythmic complexity. The horn section then becomes prominent, introducing other riffs and main melodic themes.

Fela’s band was notable for featuring two baritone saxophones, whereas most groups were using only one of this instrument. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles, and can be seen in funk and hip hop. Fela’s bands at times even performed with two bassists at the same time both playing interlocking melodies and rhythms. There were always two or more guitarists. The electric West African style guitar in Afrobeat bands are paramount, but are used to give basic structure, playing a repeating chordal/melodic statement, riff, or groove.

Some elements often present in Fela’s music are the call-and-response within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela’s songs were also very long, at least 10–15 minutes in length, and many reaching the 20 or even 30 minutes, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside Africa. His LP records frequently had one 30-minute track per side. Typically there is an instrumental “introduction” jam part of the song, perhaps 10-15 minutes long, before Fela starts singing the “main” part.

His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela’s main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboards, but he also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and took the occasional drum solo. Fela refused to perform songs again after he had already recorded them, which also hindered his popularity outside Africa.

Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the Underground Spiritual Game. Fela attempted making a movie but lost all the materials to the fire that was set to his house by the military government in power. Kuti thought that art, and thus his own music, should have political meaning.[10]

[edit] Political views“ Imagine Che Guevara and Bob Marley rolled into one person and you get a sense of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti. ”
— Herald Sun, February 2011 [16]

As a supporter of traditional religions and lifestyles, Kuti thought that the most important thing for Africans to fight is European cultural imperialism.[10] The American Black Power movement also influenced Fela’s political views; he was a supporter of Pan-Africanism and socialism, and called for a united, democratic African republic. He was a candid supporter of human rights, and many of his songs are direct attacks against dictatorships, specifically the militaristic governments of Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a social commentator, and he criticized his fellow Africans (especially the upper class) for betraying traditional African culture. The African culture he believed in also included having many wives (polygyny) and the Kalakuta Republic was formed in part as a polygamist colony. He defended his stance on polygyny with the words: “A man goes for many women in the first place. Like in Europe, when a man is married, when the wife is sleeping, he goes out and fucks around. He should bring the women in the house, man, to live with him, and stop running around the streets!”[17] His views towards women are characterized by some as misogynist, with songs like “Mattress” typically cited as evidence[18] In a more complex example, he mocks the aspiration of African women to European standards of ladyhood while extolling the values of the market woman in his song “Lady”.

Bypassing editorial censorship in Nigeria’s predominantly state controlled media, Kuti began in the 1970s buying advertising space in daily and weekly newspapers such as The Daily Times and The Punch in order to run outspoken political columns.[19] Published throughout the 1970s and early 1980s under the title Chief Priest Say, these columns were essentially extensions of Kuti’s famous Yabi Sessions—consciousness-raising word-sound rituals, with himself as chief priest, conducted at his Lagos nightclub. Organized around a militantly Afrocentric rendering of history and the essence of black beauty, Chief Priest Say focused on the role of cultural hegemony in the continuing subjugation of Africans. Kuti addressed a number of topics, from explosive denunciations of the Nigerian Government’s criminal behavior; Islam and Christianity’s exploitative nature, and evil multinational corporations; to deconstructions of Western medicine, Black Muslims, sex, pollution, and poverty. Chief Priest Say was cancelled, first by Daily Times then by Punch, ostensibly due to non-payment, but many commentators[who?] have speculated that the paper’s respective editors were placed under increasingly violent pressure to stop publication.

[edit] The Fela revivalIn recent years there has been a revitalization of Fela’s influence on music and popular culture, culminating in another re-release of his catalog controlled by Universal Music, off- and on-Broadway biopic shows, and new bands, such as Antibalas, who carry the Afrobeat banner to a new generation of listeners.

In 1999, Universal Music France, under the aegis of Francis Kertekian, remastered the 45 albums that it controlled and released them on twenty-six compact discs. These titles were licensed to other territories of the world with the exception of Nigeria and Japan, where Fela’s music was controlled by other companies. In 2005, Universal Music USA licensed all of its world-music titles to the UK-based label Wrasse Records, which repackaged the same twenty-six CDs for distribution in the USA (replacing the MCA-issued titles there) and the UK. In 2009, Universal created a new deal for the USA with Knitting Factory Records and for Europe with PIAS, which included the release of the Fela! Broadway cast album.

Thomas McCarthy’s 2008 film The Visitor depicted a disconnected professor (Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins) who wanted to play the djembe. He learns from a young Syrian (Haaz Sleiman) who tells the professor he will never truly understand African music unless he listens to Fela. The film features clips of Fela’s “Open and Close” and “Je’nwi Temi (Don’t Gag Me)”.

In 2008, an off-Broadway production of Fela Kuti’s life entitled Fela!, inspired by Carlos Moore’s 1982 book Fela, Fela! This Bitch of a Life,[20][21] began with a collaborative workshop between the Afrobeat band Antibalas and Tony award-winner Bill T. Jones. The show was a massive success, selling out shows during its run, and garnering much critical acclaim. On November 22, 2009, Fela! began a run on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. Jim Lewis helped co-write the play (along with Bill T. Jones), and obtained producer backing from Jay-Z and Will Smith, among others. On May 4, 2010, Fela! was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical for Bill T. Jones, Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Sahr Ngaujah, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Lillias White.[22]

On August 18, 2009, award-winning DJ J.Period released a free mixtape to the general public via his website that was a collaboration with Somali-born hip-hop artist K’naan paying tribute to Fela, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, entitled The Messengers.

In October 2009, Knitting Factory Records began the process of re-releasing the 45 titles that Universal Music controls, starting with yet another re-release of the compilation The Best of the Black President in the USA. The rest is expected to be released in 2010.[dated info]

In addition, a movie by Focus Features, directed by Steve McQueen and written by Biyi Bandele about the life of Fela Kuti went into production in 2010. It was announced in 2010 that Chiwetel Ejiofor would play the lead role.[23]

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About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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