Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 10:31 am
Weed-puffing folk hero, energetic polygamist, political rabble-rouser and all-around badass, the late Nigerian bandleader Fela Anikulapo Kuti is one of the few figures to near-singlehandedly concoct an entire musical genre — in this case the magnificently propulsive, polyrhythmic Afrobeat. He was also a potent, prolific composer, so it makes sense that the not-for-profit Red Hot organization has followed its 2002 multi-artist Fela tribute, Red Hot + Riot, with this second volume.
"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."
Fela Kuti is considered the founder of the musical style known as Afropop, which employs a very large band with a jazzy horn section and African rhythms. Kuti is not only a composer, but multi-instrumentalist, human rights advocate and political agitator.
The Fela Kuti Double Feature Documentary and Concert DVD is hypnotic watching, beginning with the chain smoking Fela introducing himself.