Fela Kuti: The Legacy of the Afrobeat


The music genre known as afrobeat originated in the 1960s and 70s as a combination of jazz, traditional Yoruba music, West African highlife, and funk. The unique style of afrobeat is generally attributed with the Nigerian artist known as Fela Kuti. The Nigerian artist is renowned for his whimsical character, musical skills, and his entanglement in post-colonial African politics.

Fela was born into a renowned  Yoruba family largely known for anti-colonial activism. Fela studied medicine in London in the 1960s. His career in medicine was short lived seeing as to how he abandoned his studies and returned to Nigeria for a career in music. A decade after his start in music his career blossomed. Fela’s band made a notable impact in the Nigerian music industry before going global during the 1970s.

Fela is now treated as one of the most influential musicians with hit albums such as the ’69 Los Angeles Sessions, Best of the Black President, Expensive Shit, Live!, Zombie and The Underground Spiritual Game.

Inspired by the Black Panther movement, Fela’s music mocked and criticized the military dictatorship in Nigeria of the time. Fela inspired his people to regain their self-pride and self-reliance. One of the unique things about his songs is their length. They could 30 minutes and are skillfully crafted and ecstatic.

Fela’s son, Femi Kuti, born in London in 1962 continued his fathers legacy of the afrobeat, but also added his touch to it making it his own unique style.

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