Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ghosts and Zombies: Zombie

Fela and Afrika 70: Zombie


Fela Anikulapo Kuti was one unique dude. These days, many musicians think they are politicians, but in the dangerous political climate of 1970s Nigeria, Fela walked the walk. Yes, his music could be extremely political. But the guy also formed his own political party, and tried to form his own country, the Kalakuta Republic.

"Zombie", written about the harsh Nigerian military, was a big hit that caused him no end of trouble. His Kalakuta Republic compound was attacked and burned, he was beaten, and his mother sustained injuries that lead to her death. Fela responded by writing "Coffin for Head of State". The man had some serious stones. Oh, and he invented Afrobeat, a potent mix of jazz, funk, and highlife.

Just about any '70s Fela will do, but if you can only have one of his songs, "Zombie" is the one to get. Your head might not understand all of his Pidgin English, but your body will not be able to resist the infectious beat.

There is a show based on his life currently running on Broadway. I'd love to see it, but I can't imagine staying seated through the whole show.

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