In Fela's Footsteps
by Rachel Devitt | April 7, 2013
Fela Kuti was many things. Artistic innovator. Fierce musician. Lover (of hundreds) and fighter (against hundreds). Indefatigable revolutionary. Controversial, fascinating figure. And, of course, founder of an entire genre of music. The mark of Nigeria’s Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his Afrobeat -- a heady concoction of funk, psychedelic rock, highlife, Afropop, soul, and ferocious lyrical stances -- on African culture is indelible. But nowhere is his imprint more apparent than on the diverse international lineup of artists who have taken up his mantle.
Over the decades, bands in Europe, the U.S., Latin America and, of course, Africa have been entranced with Afrobeat, discovering its salty saxes, its swaying funk, its epically impassioned jams. Bands like Chicago Afrobeat Project, The Budos Band, Quantic Soul Orchestra and Ocote Soul Sounds have dug into Afrobeat from avenues as disparate as jazz, indie rock and cumbia. Other Fela followers got into his legacy a bit more directly: Kuti's sons Seun and Femi have both kept Dad's dreams alive (and helmed his bands) in their own ways.
Regardless of their entry point, locale or musical/familial DNA, these bands all share at least a couple of common traits: They love and honor Fela’s legacy, and they can kick out some serious jams. Here's a quick sampler.