Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Faces Backlash In Nigeria Over Fela

 

 

Nigeria just lost its opportunity to make its first appearance in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Fela Anikulapo Kuti missed out on the class of 2021 despite garnering the second highest votes.

Nigerians, however, have expressed displeasure and even shock over the exclusion of Fela Kuti, as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2021.

This is the first time Fela is being nominated to the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Question marks flooded social media: Wait, what just happened?

Nigerian fans could understand why the Fan Vote’s top winner, Turner, was inducted, as well as third-placers the Go-Go’s and fifth-placers Foo Fighters. Amusingly: Jay-Z, who was last, earned a spot.

The multi-instrumentalist and Afrobeat legend is one of the most prominent music industry figures in African history, which was reflected in the Fan Vote: Kuti placed second among voters with his very first nomination, ahead of the Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, and Foo Fighters.

The question became, how did Jay-Z get inducted and Fela Kuti wasn’t?

 

 

 

Tina Turner, Jay-Z Among 2021 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees, Fela Misses Out

Fela Kuti, circa 1980.(PHOTO: David Corio)

 

 

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has missed out on the bid to become an inductee of the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where Tina Turner, Carole King, and Jay-Z made it.

Jay-Z, the Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner are the newest inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the organization announced Wednesday morning.

The hall said it’s 2021 class includes the “most diverse list of inductees in the history of the organization.” Three are two-time inductees.

Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, and Jay-Z were on the ballot for the first time this year.

Speaking of the new inductees, John Skyes, the Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said: “This diverse class of talented Inductees reflects the Rock Hall’s ongoing commitment to honor artists whose music created the sound of youth culture. It will make for an unforgettable live celebration of music in October at this year’s Induction Ceremony in Cleveland.”

To be eligible for induction, artists have to have released their first record 25 years earlier and “have created music whose originality, impact and influence have changed the course of rock & roll,” according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, and Jay-Z were on the ballot for the first time this year.

Musicians and groups who were nominated but not inducted were Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Iron Maiden, Chaka Khan, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, and Dionne Warwick.

Fela Kuti was first announced as a nominee for the award in February. Soon after the announcement, there was a huge push on social media to vote for the Nigerian music legend whose music much of the populace especially fans say is still relevant to date because of the social issues it addressed.

 

2021 Final fans’ ballot (Image: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

 

Massive support from celebrities like Davido, Burna Boy, Banky W, Don Jazzy, and other prominent voices gave the legend an early boost but the Turner fans gave it more from the results that were published by the hall.

If Fela had won, the multi-instrumentalist and Afrobeat legend would have made history as the first Nigerian artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

No Plans To Let Fela Win?

Fans took to social media to express their disappointment and displeasure in the situation despite having the second-highest votes and other inductees not coming close to his number of votes being inducted to the hall.

See some of the tweets below:

Post-Humous Album: For Tony Allen ‘There Is No End’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2010 Nigerian drummer Tony Allen performs during the Glastonbury festival near Pilton. (Photo by LEON NEAL / AFP)

 

 

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who pioneered Afrobeat alongside his old band mate Fela Kuti, was knocking out rhythms right up until his death last year at the age of 79.

And as shown on a new album out this week, Allen never stopped pushing boundaries and promoting young talent.

At the time of his death in April 2020, he was deep into a new project that aimed to showcase a new generation of stars.

“Tony wanted to do a rap album, to feature some young rappers, boys and girls, but outside the norm,” the new album’s co-producer Vincent Taeger told AFP.

His friends and collaborators decided to complete the work he had started, resulting in “There Is No End”, which is released on Friday.

“When he left us, it was very hard,” Taeger said. “A month later, his record label and manager contacted me to say: ‘You made a lot of progress, you should respect the wishes of the master and finish the album’.”

Allen had already recorded the drum parts and some bass lines, and was exploring potential collaborations with up-and-coming artists.

“Tony always loved hip-hop. With Fela, there was already the groove, the party, the dancing that lasts all night, just like the early rap sound-system parties,” Allen’s manager Eric Trosset told AFP.

 

There Is No End is a remarkable way to say goodbye to Tony Allen.

 

– ‘A smuggler’ –
Allen was one of the founding fathers of Afrobeat in the 1960s and 1970s as a drummer for Fela Kuti and musical director of his Africa ’70 band.

They recorded around 40 albums together before parting ways after a 26-year collaboration.

Allen continued to reach new audiences, particularly through his work with Blur singer Damon Albarn and his groups Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen.

For the new album, the only song that had been completed at the time of his death was “Cosmosis” featuring British rapper Skepta and poet Ben Okri, who are also of Nigerian origin.

But that represents just a small part of the eclectic mix of styles brought together posthumously by Taeger and another frequent collaborator, Vincent Taurelle.

“Rich Black” brings in the rhymes of US rapper Koreatown Oddity, while “Tres Magnifique” has nods to Tom Waits.

And it falls to young British star Lava La Rue to match the tempo set by Allen on “One Inna Million”.

“We’ve managed to make an album that resembles Tony with some really great featured artists, not all of them very well known yet, that will give them a boost. Tony was always a smuggler in that way,” said Taeger, who goes by the name Tiger Tigre for his own solo projects.

“At the start, I said, ‘Damn, Tony isn’t here, it’s going to be very different. He obviously wanted to meet these rappers for the recordings in all four corners of the globe,” he added.

“But he trusted me, he knew that I spoke the same language as him.”

Even without Allen, the possibility of bringing the album to the stage has not been entirely ruled out, said Taeger, who is considering a crowdfunding campaign.

“I’ve thought about it. There are a lot of great drummers like Questlove (of The Roots), Anderson .Paak, who knew him. They could do a few concerts to show off Tony’s style.”

Legendary Afrobeat Drummer Tony Allen Dies At 79

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 27, 2010, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen performs on the Park stage on the final day of the Glastonbury festival near Pilton, Somerset. LEON NEAL / AFP

 

 

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79 in Paris on Thursday, his manager told AFP.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death,” manager Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus.

“He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital where he died.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Reports Highest Single-Day COVID-19 Cases, Seven More Deaths

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 1970s.

During that time the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th-century African music.

Over Allen’s thrilling beat, Fela laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent.

Allen and Fela recorded around 40 albums together in Africa ’70, before parting ways after a mythic 26-year collaboration.

Such was the hole that Allen left in his band, Fela needed four drummers to replace him.

Allen taught himself to play drums from the age of 18, drawing inspiration from American jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker as well as contemporary African music.

He remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians.

British musician and producer Brian Eno has called Allen “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”.

Allen was the drummer in the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring Blur singer Damon Albarn and The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released its second album in 2018.

He lived in the Paris suburb Courbevoie.

AFP

Macron To Visit Lagos, Afrika Shrine

French President, Emmanuel Macron and Femi Kuti

 

French President, Emmanuel Macron, will on Tuesday visit the New Afrika Shrine founded by Femi Kuti, son of Nigerian music legend, Fela Kuti – making him the first president to enter the venue.

The New Afrika Shrine located at Ikeja Lagos was built after the original Shrine by the musical maverick, Fela was burnt down in 1977.

“The Shrine is a must-see place,” said Olivier Laouchez, the head of the TRACE media and entertainment group and organiser of the event Macron will attend, adding that Lagos is “Africa’s cultural capital”.

The evening will feature concerts, fashion shows by leading African designers and a meeting with stars from Nigeria’s booming Nollywood film industry.

Macron, who is currently visiting the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to attend an African Union summit on Sunday, will go on to Abuja (Nigeria’s capital) for talks with his counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari on security and terrorism, before coming to Lagos.

– The Afrobeat king –

Fela Kuti came from a patrician family whose pioneering music and quest for social justice made him an international star and the bugbear of Nigeria’s former military rulers.

Called the “black president” by adoring fans, Fela Kuti’s trademark style, christened Afrobeat, featured songs in the native Yoruba Language as well as pidgin and were searing indictments of corruption and incompetence.

Ibrahim Tcha-Tchere, a veteran employee of the Alliance Francaise cultural institute in Lagos, said Macron’s visit was fitting given that “France has always had great cultural cooperation with Nigeria.

“It was the French who organised Fela’s first European tour in 1981,” he said.

“Then his sons Femi and Seun launched their international careers in France.”

The shrine is a big hall, painted brown and yellow, with patterns of green, red and black, suggesting African symbolism.

Laouchez joked that organising the event was no cakewalk, saying: “It requires great organisation because there are frequent power cuts and you have to ensure that the ceiling fans do not fall on the heads of guests… but it’s exciting.”

“Musically speaking, the new Nigerian Afrobeat movement is global,” he added, pointing to stars such as Davido, Wizkid and Mr Eazi.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Sunday announced that there would be traffic diversion and restricted movement from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday around the Alausa, African Shrine/Agidingbi axis.

FG To Convert Fela’s Family Home Into Museum

Ransome-Kuti Family house

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has revealed plans to set up new tourist centres and monuments across the state especially for structures owned by individuals who have made the state proud in their areas of interest.

He made this known on Wednesday, during a visit to the Kuti family home in Abeokuta, adding that it was part of efforts to expand the creative industry in Ogun State and in turn, boost the state’s economy.

Governor Amosun, while being accompanied by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said the house will be turned into a museum, the first among many more to come.

Mr Mohammed who commended the exercise while speaking to journalists said: “It is laudable in the sense that this is one of the most positive steps to actually put our rhetorics into action.

“We have always said that one of the important assets we have is our cultural heritage, our history and this project, which is going to immortalise the Ransome-Kuti family, is laudable and admirable.

“The family, as you know, represents different things to different people, whether you talk about education, emancipation, music or entertainment.

“Therefore, this attempt by the government at immortalising the family by preserving and restoring the ancestral home is very commendable.

“The emphasis of this government, whether state or federal, is that the creative industry must be turned into creative economy and this centre is going to be a good model to encourage and inspire the youth.”

Also addressing journalists, Governor Amosun promised to deliver the project and ensure that the legacies of great legends live on.

“The creative industry should be turned to a creative economy – we are going have museums for all of them, it is not just the Kuti family alone.

“All our icons have a special place in our administration. These are the people who define us, when we go out there and say we are from Ogun State. We can’t call ourselves who we say we are without those giants who lived before us.

“They laid the foundation that we are all building upon and clearly, the Kuti family is one of those illustrious families that conquered the world, not only Ogun Sate or Abeokuta or Nigeria.

“Fela was far ahead of his time. For us, it will be in our interest to let people know his origin, his root,” the governor stated.

Furthermore, he hinted that the project should be completed latest by the year 2018.

Nigerian Pop Music: In The Shadow Of Fela Kuti

(File Photo) Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti was known as “the King of Afrobeat”. Krizbeatz calls himself “the King of AfroDance”, the Nigerian music that has got millions dancing across Africa and the world.

For Fela, as he is still known to fans, music was often a life-threatening fight against corrupt military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s.

For the talented Krizbeatz, a child of the capitalist and democratic 1990s, music is a game.

But the self-assured 22-year-old music producer — real name Chris Alvin Sunday — still takes his inspiration from Fela when he’s at his mixing desk.

“I studied House Music in South Africa but I’m a Nigerian. Afrobeat is what I grew up listening to. Afrobeat is who I am,” he told AFP.

In 2016, Krizbeatz produced the hit “Pana”, which has had close to 53 million views on YouTube and been downloaded 10.5 million times on Spotify.

In it, the singer Tekno Miles declares his love for his sweetheart and promises to drive her to the church in a Porsche.

Some feel that 20 years after his death in August 1997, Fela would surely turn in his grave to hear the new generation celebrating designer labels, luxury cars and champagne.

But Krizbeatz says Nigerian music is first and foremost about the beat.

“If you talk about a Nigerian song, you talk about the beat before anything else,” he said, grabbing an electric guitar to record a few notes on a loop on his computer.

“You hear it and you just want to dance and be happy, before you can listen to the lyrics.”

– ‘Butts and boobs’ –

Abdul Okwechime organises the week-long “Felabration” festival of Fela’s life and work, ending at the weekend and held every year around the musician’s birthday.

He is less than impressed with the turn that lyrics today have taken.

“They talk too much about femininity, the sensuality of women,” he complained.

“We have lost protest music, music to wake up to, to make you aware of the society, and our society is ill,” he said, as he took visitors around Fela’s commune, dubbed Kalakuta Republic in Lagos.

The musician lived at the commune — which he once declared an independent republic — with his family, band and 27 wives.

“Now they (modern musicians) talk about butts, they talk about boobs… the sexuality of women, that’s what they talk about now,” said Okwechime.

Nevertheless, Fela’s music and influence is still important.

Even Nigerian megastar Wizkid — the first Afrobeats artist to headline a sold-out show at London’s Royal Albert Hall — opened his historic concert there in September with Fela’s 1972 epic, “Lady”.

Other artists pay tribute in different ways.

At his Borno Winners Empire studio, in the upmarket Lagos suburb of Lekki, Adekunle Gold is wearing traditional dress and recording his second album.

Around him is his band, The 79th Element, named after the atomic number for gold.

The singer says he has created a new sound, mixing musical styles inspired by Nigerian Afropop, Indian harmonies and Ghanaian Highlife, but underlying it with percussion and vocals like Fela in his heydey.

“Fela is no more but he’s still within us. He’s legendary,” said Gold. “If I’m on stage and I don’t hear that sound, I feel that something is missing.”

– Hopes, dreams and money –

Unlike Fela Kuti, artists no longer risk prison for speaking out, as the internet and social networks have brought greater freedom of expression to Nigeria.

For African music specialist Banning Eyre, from online radio and music magazine Afropop Worldwide, the new Nigerian scene is “hopeful and aspirational”.

“Young people in Africa, they know the problems. It’s their daily life, that’s what they think about all day!” he said.

“They don’t want to hear about it when they go out or when they listen to the radio.”

But for Eyre, the loss of social and political engagement is in large part due to piracy and the fact that artists cannot make a living from sales of their albums.

“The Nigerian music industry had to create a new economic model because of piracy,” he said.

“They get sponsorships for their videos, for their concert events, with private companies… that are often the same companies who have deals with government.

“They want to make money, they want to make a lot of money, so they won’t go against the system that feeds them.”

Tekno has appeared on Instagram posing in front of the latest Bentley car.

But at an annual October 1 Independence Day concert he struck a different note, as the only performer to launch into a semi-protest song, criticising endless power cuts and corruption.

Dressed in a green velvet suit, his arms covered in tattoos, his song “Rara” got a rousing response from the audience too.

Many in the crowd at the glitzy event, where tickets cost 100,000 naira ($277, 235 euros), sang along to its chorus blasting “plenty greedy man” and calls to make Nigeria a better place — perhaps caught up in the song’s catchy beat.

AFP

Family Set To Immortalize Ayinde Barrister

ayinde barristerThe family of late pioneer of Fuji Music, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, is making plans to immortalize him by turning the icon’s house into a museum.

If accomplished, the icon’s house in the Isolo area of Lagos would be second of such, following a similar effort by the family of late Afrobeats legend, Fela Kuti, in 2012.

An all-star tribute concert has also been lined up to celebrate the 5th anniversary of barrister’s demise.

One of Nigeria’s best-known singer/songwriters, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister played an essential role in the evolution of the music of his homeland.

The leader of a 25-piece band, the Supreme Fuji Commanders and a smaller group, the Africa International Music Ambassadors, Barrister had continued to be one of the leading purveyors of Fuji, an exciting, amplified dance music combining Juju, Apala, and traditional Yoruba blues that he introduced in the late ’70s.

With his heartfelt vocals set to a rhythmic mix of talking drums, claves, bells, shekere, drum set and Hawaiian-style guitar, he laid the foundation for Fuji, which he named after Mt. Fuji, the Japanese mountain of love. The style had been described as “Juju without the guitars” and a “percussion conversation”.

The 62 year old musician passed away at St Mary’s Hospital in London on December 16, 2010, after a protracted illness.

Muyiwa Set To Drop ‘Eko Ile’ On October 30

Muyiwa Set To Drop 'Eko Ile' On October 30UK-based Nigerian gospel artist, Olanrewaju Muyiwa, says his first all-African album ‘Eko Ile’ will be out on October 30.

The United Kingdom’s most prolific gospel artist noted that a UK tour announcement would follow the release of the dynamic 10-track album.

‘Eko Ile’ follows the success of Live at the Apollo (2012), the live CD and DVD recorded at his sold-out Hammersmith Apollo show with Riversongz, his charismatic Afro-gospel band.

Muyiwa explained in a statement that ‘Eko Ile’ is a return to his roots translating to ‘Lagos my home’ which harks to a Nigerian folk song of the same name. Muyiwa channels a myriad of African music styles via gospel.

“Written alongside Kwame Yeboah (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ms. Dynamite) and Eddie Martin (Whitney Houston, Neyo, Chris Brown) and produced by the former, the album is a journey from east to west of the continent, stopping off at high-life reminiscent of fellow countryman Fela Kuti, refreshed takes on traditional African praise, and African reggae,” he said in the statement.

“It makes sense then, that the album was predominantly recorded in Ghana, that it frequently features Muyiwa’s native Nigerian tongue of Yoruba and that it’s peppered with Swahili, Zulu, and Pidgin English.”

Gaise Set To Bring Ebenezer Obey & Fela Kuti Together For The Youths

Gaise, Coded TunesFast rising Afro-fusion artiste, Gaise recently signed to Id Cabasa’s Coded Tunes Entertainment and from all indications the rapper is set to take his music to new heights.

Having grown up in a typical Yoruba family in Ile Ife where he was exposed to local lifestyles – climbing trees and rolling tyres as pastime – Gaise has learned to appreciate life and philosophy on a deeper level.

Like most singers, his passion for music started out in the Church and the desire to be original in content and delivery led him to become a song writer.

In an interview with Channels Television’s Entertainment News, Gaise shared some of his thoughts on the music scene in the country, laying out his plan to bring options to Nigeria’s youth.

“I feel that young people, children and those who are at the mercy of the music that is available deserve an alternative,” he said.

According to him, “there is too much of a kind of music right now and I’m not talking of style. I’m talking of content.

“It (music available) is pretty much about body parts and affluence – flexing and clubbing. I feel that there should be more mentally stimulating music – music that you hear and it makes you think.”

Gaise Coded Tunes

The rapper whose song ‘Little Drops’ gained impressive airplay told EN his music addresses issues and everyday living.

“Like I did with little drops and I was talking about Nigerians and the fact that with our actions, words and the things that we do, we actually influence the state of the nation

He further explained his opinion saying the floods in Lagos could not be blamed on the government but on citizens who litter the roads with waste.

“We are 20 million in Lagos, so if just four million of us are doing that, we have millions of litter blocking drainage. Of course, there’ll be flood.”

Although his music comes with a religious bias for Christianity which forms the boundaries for his content, Gaise admits that the late Afrobeats legend, Femi Anikulapo Kuti influences him – but only as regards delivery and style.

I am “considerably liberal. So I’m open to ideas. I’m open to learning…. so I expose my mind to those who have gone before (me)”

He adds that he will listen to rich music, even those that do not originate in Church,

“Any musician will be deceiving himself or herself if you do not give regard to the music that Fela did. I personally like the boldness with which he sang.”

Ebenezer Obey and Tope Alabi are some of the other musicians who inspire him.

“I want to do the Ebenezer Obey type of content with the Fela type fearlessness”.

Femi Kuti Releases First Video In Over A Decade

Afro-beat maestro Femi Kuti has finally released the video for his hit single “The World is Changing”, his first since Beng Beng Beng.

His album set for release, titled “No Place For My Dream”, is directed towards corruption and injustice in several parts of Africa, particularly Nigeria.

Femi formed the Positive Force in  1986 and has since created his own movement, which is not far from that of his late legendary father Fela Kuti, who was very radical in the fight against corruption.

Fela lives on….fifteen years after

Today marks the fifteenth death anniversary of late Afro-beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

The week long Felabration ceremony to celebrate the icon kicks off today with the Thursday Rehearsal Blast at the The New Afrika Shrine with a special performance by Femi Kuti.

Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, on the 15th of October, 1938, the artist was popularly known as Fela Kuti, and during and after his lifetime, emerged as one of Africa’s greatest musician and performer.

The Afro-beat legend, whose legacy continues to live on, passed away on the 2nd of August, 1997 and was announced dead by his brother the former Health Minister, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, citing HIV/AIDS as the cause of death.

Fela formed the Kalakuta Republic and also set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and later re-named Afrika Shrine, where he performed regularly.

His genre of music; Afrobeat, is a complex fusion of Jazz, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, and traditional West African chants and rhythms.

He mostly sang in Pidgin English but he also performed a few songs in his native Yoruba language and English language.

Fela was also an instrumentalist playing saxophone and keyboards to his rich Afro-beat lyrics. He also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and occasionally beats the drum.

Fela was an avid supporter of human rights and many of his songs were directly critical of corruption in government and against dictatorships across Africa. He was also very critical of the military governments in Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a traditionalist, Fela  was also very critical of African elite for betraying traditional African culture.