Music history is written by a few big names a century who go onto influence decades and decades of artists. One of those big names was certainly Fela Kuti, the defiant Afrobeat pioneer whose own mother was killed by Nigerian police as he fought for free expression. His songs, exuberant, powerful combos of jazz, funk, and traditional African music went on to influence generations of Afrobeat, Afropop, and funk musicians who cited his “Shrine” — the Lagos club where he performed nightly — as where they were first inspired to become musicians.
Now, there’s a musical about his life that re-enacts a night at the Shrine onstage on New York’s Broadway ( this reporter attended and loved it!) and today, an album compiled of songs inspired by Kuti dropped from Now-Again records. Titled Black Man’s Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kutiit’s veritably stuffed with huge artists. As the label, Stone’s Throw, explained:
In Nigeria, his countrymen knew his music like Americans know Elvis. On foreign shores, a chosen few Westerners could claim to know the extent of Fela’s genius. As a result, while music historians have filled books with references to the influence of Westerners on Fela’s creation, little has been said about Fela’s inspiration on others. Thus, our compilation begins.
We’ve got a sample and the tracklist below. The artists, the label assured, are all “Fela Estate-approved” — from Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Trinidad and more.
Listen here to Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band’s version of “Woman Pin Down” or watch below. If I listened to this all day I would be the happiest person ever.
01 Cumbia Moderna De Soledad: “Shacalao”
02 Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band: “Woman Pin Down”
03 6th Infantry Brigade of the Nigerian Army: “Black and Proud”
04 Bola Johnson: “Hot Pants”
05 Segun Bucknor: “Adebo”
06 Bola Johnson: “Never Trust a Woman”
07 Jerry Hansen: “Sisi Mi”
08 Lisandro Meza: “Shacalao”
09 Phirpo Y Sus Caribes: “Comencemos”
10 Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes: “Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley)”
11 Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra: “Black Man’s Cry”
12 Sylvania East Side Symphony: “Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley)”
13 Daktaris: “Up Side Down”
14 Karl Hector & the Malcouns: “Toure Samar”
15 Whitefield Brothers: “Lullaby for Lagos”
Credit: Now Again Records