FELA KUTI - Expensive Shit & He Miss Road (1975)
Ginger Baker was at the controls for "He Miss Road"
Fela Kuti was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria to a middle-class family. He relocated to London in 1958 with the intention of studying medicine, but he decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a style of music Fela called Afrobeat. The style was a fusion of American jazz with West African highlife.
In 1969 Fela took the band to the United States. While there, Fela discovered the black power movement through Sandra Izsadore--a friend 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 were tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the US without work permits. The band then performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles, which would later be released as "The '69 Los Angeles Sessions".
Fela and his band, renamed "Africa '70" returned to Nigeria. He then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio and a home for many connected to the band which he later declared independent from the Nigerian state. Fela set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and then the Shrine, where he performed regularly. Fela also changed his middle name to "Anikulapo" (meaning "he who carries death in his pouch"), stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name.
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. In 1974 the police arrived with a search warrant and a cannabis joint, which they had intended to plant on Fela. He became wise to this and swallowed the joint. In response, the police took him into custody and waited to examine his feces. Fela enlisted the help of his prison mates and gave the police someone else's feces, and Fela was freed.
The American Black Power movement influenced Fela's political views. He was also a supporter of Pan-Africanism and socialism, and called for a united, democratic African republic. He was a fierce 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 criticized his fellow Africans (especially the upper class) for betraying traditional African culture. The African culture he believed in also included having many wives (polygamy) and the Kalakuta Republic was formed in part as a polygamist colony. Though not part of African culture, it should be noted though that Fela was very liberal when it came to sex, as he portrayed in some of his songs, like "Open and Close." He also expressed views that could be considered sexist.
Posted by wino at Thursday, September 28, 2006