Fela Kuti

First Listen: 'Red Hot + Fela'

Sep 30, 2013

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."

Kino Lorber Films

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.