To start this challenge very late, I’m kicking things off with my main man fitty grand-I-ain’t-never-played-can-jam-with-the-fam Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti. A man otherwise known as Fela Kuti.
Many would consider this strictly African music but I’m using who he was and what he stood for as the first post for this #BlackMusicMonth series. You can find out more about that, here.
From what I’ve watched and learned about him, Fela was a man who was extremely serious about the betterment of Africans and people in general, and as such he was very much a political rebel in a corruption-infested country. Both of those characteristics materialized in his music, too. When you really pay attention, much of his lyrical content tried to open people’s eyes to the corrupt ways of the Nigerian government, and governments around the world. Sonically, his songs combined the best parts of jazz, funk, Ghanaian & Nigerian music, with a hint of Latin influence in the right places. Formally, this is known as Afrobeat.
Starting out, the sound was a risky mix, but he soldiered on to perfect it and make it authentic and beautiful and magical, and that’s what it became. That process also shows parallels with how he handled being a man of the people — not above but equal. There were many terribly rough patches and “run-ins” with the government of his home country, to put it almost obnoxiously lightly, but he fought and stayed true to what he believed in. He didn’t care who was going to fight him, he would and did fight back, and he was probably one of THE definitions of not giving a fuck — about the right things.