Africa's greatest musical superstar.
Fela Kuti (1938-1997) was a Nigerian singer, saxophonist, dancer and activist, famous for creating the musical genre "afrobeat", a cross between African traditional music, jazz and funk. He wrote and performed several songs attacking political and social conventions in his native country and African society in general. Needless to say, he was arrested and beaten up for this several times during his career. He died in 1997 of AIDS.
In 2008 the stage musical Fela!
was made about his life.
This trope provides examples of:
- Anti-Love Song: Wrote about lust and nothing else.
- Badass Boast: Kuti was very cocksure.
- Badass Preacher: Kuti's concerts sometimes felt like a spiritual experience with Kuti preaching his message to his audience. This despite the fact that he wasn't particularly religious himself.
- Bawdy Song: "Mattress" in which he compares women to mattresses. And "Na Poi" was banned from Nigerian radio for its explicit lyrics.
- Bilingual Bonus: Most of his songs were sung in pidgin English, but there are also a few in Yoruba.
- Blasphemous Boast: Later in his career Kuti poked fun at organized religion a lot, as in "Shuffering And Shmiling".
- Blasting Time: Kuti and his band always ended their shows by raising their arms in the air and clenching their fists.
- Body Paint: He and his band wore body paint during concerts.
- But Not Too Black: Attacked this mindset in "Yellow Fever", pointing out that skin-lightening creams just made the user look sick, and that "light skin is more beautiful" was a holdover from colonialism that needed to die.
- Epic Rocking: Most of his albums only have two to four tracks, which take several minutes on an "eternal groove".
- Funk: His music is damn groovy!
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Kuti made fierce attacks on politicians and religious leaders of his day and named names in his songs. He got in trouble a lot for it.
- Grief Song: "Coffin For Head Of State" was written after his mother died when presidential soldiers raided his house.
- Harem Seeker: Kuti had a lot of wives and lived together with them.
- I Am the Band: Had a huge band with musicians, singers and dancers, but he was the star. However, he once praised drummer Tony Allen by stating "without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat".
- I Ate What?: Once, to avoid being tried for possession of a joint, Kuti swallowed the item. The prison guards had a hunch though and waited until the item would come out the natural way. Kuti wasn't born yesterday either: he switched his feces with those of another prisoner and was sent home free from all charges. The incident was recounted in the song "Expensive Shit".
- Iconic Item: The white paint on his face and bare breast.
- Intercourse with You: Had very open-minded ideas about sex.
- Just Following Orders: His song "Zombie" is an attack on soldiers obeying their leaders at all cost. "Mister Follow Follow" is similar.
- Long Title: "Teacher Don't Teach Me No Nonsense".
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Kuti attacked his country's leaders so much that he was frequently arrested, beaten up and had his house destroyed.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Afrobeat started when Fela Kuti mixed American funk and jazz with Ghanian highlife music (which itself is a hybrid genre) and Nigerian tribal chants.
- Protest Song: Lots!
- Ripped from the Headlines: Most of Kuti's songs were directly inspired by (at the time) real life events.
- After escaping jail time over marihuana possession Kuti wrote the song "Expensive Shit".
- Religion Rant Song: "Shuffering And Shmiling".
- Smoking Is Cool: Kuti smoked both cigarettes and marihuana.
- Start My Own: He eventually founded his own political party.
- Take That: The government.
- Tribal Face Paint: He and his band always wore white face and body paint during concerts.
- You No Take Candle: Kuti sang in pidgin English so that the majority of Africans could understand him.