I would be remiss to do all this talk of afros and not do a post about one of my most favorite genres of music: AFROBEAT! Fela Anikulapo Kuti is the godfather of this funky, horn-laced, groovin, frenetic and too-danceable-for its own good style of music. Afrobeat originated in Nigeria in the late 60’s/early 70’s and is a hybrid of highlife, jazz, funk with heavy influences from the godfather of soul: Mr. James Brown.
Fela’s music became wildly popular and he used his music as a tool to speak out against military and political corruption in Nigeria. His political influence on the public even allowed him to run for president twice!
Fela continued to release records until the 1990’s and his Afrobeat legacy continues to live on today. One of his sons, Femi Kuti, and Tony Allen (Fela’s former drummer) still produce and releases afrobeat records. Recently, a Broadway production called FELA! (produced by Will, Jada, and Jay-Z) was a huge success (and I am still extremely sad about missing it!)
In addition there are scores of other bands and dj’s who are keeping the afrobeat alive. If you are in the Bay Area, my friends DJ Pleasuremaker and Senor Oz host a party every Thursday night at the Elbo Room (in SF) called Afrolicious that features amazing afrobeat/samba/salsa/tropicalia fusion. Get there! You. Will. Dance.
I put together this mix of a few songs as a tribute to Fela, his music and the artists he has inspired along the way.
Just like a food and wine pairing (here comes the hair tie-in! finally!), give this a listen while styling your hair for the weekend. I promise that the infectious tunes will keep your feet and hands moving while you’re getting ready. Try Bantu Knots! Like Afrobeat, the Bantu people are also from Nigeria. Besides, they’ll work wonders at keeping your hair tight and off of your face while you work out out on the afrobeat dance floor!
Enjoy the music and happy weekend y’all!!