Fela Anikulapo Kuti (; 15 October 1938 — 2 August 1997), or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela's main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboards, but he also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and took the occasional drum solo. Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild.
The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is a complex fusion of Jazz, Funk (especially the music of James Brown), Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native "tinker pan" African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masakela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz. The importance of the input of Tony Allen (Fela's drummer of twenty years) in the creation of Afrobeat cannot be overstated. Fela once famously stated that, "without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat".
Afrobeat is characterized by a fairly large band with many instruments, vocals, and a musical structure featuring jazzy, funky horn sections. The "endless groove" is used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted West African style guitar, and melodic bass guitar riffs are repeated throughout the song. Commonly, interlocking melodic riffs and rhythms are introduced one by one, building the groove bit-by-bit and layer-by-layer to an astonishing melodic and polyrhythmic complexity. The horn section then becomes prominent, introducing other riffs and main melodic themes.
Label: Knitting Factory | Released: 2013 | Length: 164'44"