Nigeria, 1973, afrobeat

Fela Ransome Kuti & The Afrika 70Gentleman

Most of the time, I just listen to albums and write my own responses to them as if I’m listening to them in a cultural vacuum, but with Fela Kuti, I always skim the Wikipedia entry for any of his albums because I enjoy learning about the political circumstances in which his music arose. In this case, “the cover artwork’s depiction of a monkey’s head superimposed on a suited body is a reference to the album’s title track, which Kuti composed as a commentary on the colonial mentality of Africans who adhered to European customs and clothing.” Yeah, that’s very clear. A grimy saxophone dominates the first part of this album, with Kuti telling the world that he’s not going to play the game, not going to be a “gentleman” but rather take pride in being an Africaman. The warm keyboard offset the croaking sax nicely. Kuti wants to get his hands dirty in a land full of proverbs I will never understand.

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