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Pulse Opinion: Herein lies the true art of sampling Fela Kuti

Posted By:  on  January 15, 2019


The art of sampling Fela Kuti requires a deep conviction that does not stray from the composer’s beliefs (sinistersaladmusikal)

The art of sampling is a very tricky art especially when sampling records by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti which serve a higher purpose. In 2011, I told Osagie Alonge (who then worked at THE NET) that Fela was a sampler’s dream. We were both at the New Afrikan Shrine watching a recorded version of the award-winning stage play FELA!

Soaking up the vibrancy of Fela’s politically charged genre of music, Afrobeat, I believed that producers, who carried a shovel into the vast cave of Abami Eda’s discography, would come back with a treasure chest filled with snares, kicks, horns and guitar riffs and chopped vocals to play with. In December 2010, a Nigerian rapper by the name of Kahli Abdu released ‘Ministry of Corruption ‘, a 13-track mixtape that featured a Fela sample on every song.

The cover art of Kahli Abdu’s mixtape ‘Ministry of
Corruption (GRD)

‘Ministry of Corruption’ was heralded among Internet rap fans for addressing societal ills while using Fela’s music as a soundboard for Hip-Hop styled consciousness. For me, M.O.C was fierce because Fela’s sound and words were not sampled out of context. They were sampled within the lines of activism, consciousness and social change. Kahli Abdu never strayed from these paths as his used Fela as an auditory guide to curate the political climate of those times. In 2017, I observed in an article titled ‘The Nigerian youth has disconnected from country’s struggles’ that contemporary Nigerian acts were tapping into the sounds of Fela Kuti but not necessarily the content. With the wave of Afrobeats splashing on the shores of England and North America, Nigerian singers have sought inspiration from Fela, mining the hedonistic part of his lifestyle, looks and sound. Seun Kuti duly noted that the new gen acts have been appropriating Fela and what he stood for. He recently took them to the cleaners for this, and in usual Kalakuta style, he did not mince words.

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