Anonymous said: Rushmore for Fela Kuti

Man, Fela has quite a few possible picks—it’s a little tough when you’re trying to comb through a bunch of 14-minute tracks. But:

1. “Water No Get Enemy.” This song is pretty unique in Fela’s catalog—the rhythm is very different from his usual clave beat, and the chorus gives it a different feel, too—the way it sings along to the horns is similar to something Les Baxter or Peter Thomas might have done. Plus, it’s a cracking great song.

2. “Zombie.” An obvious choice, but for a reason. That horn section hits like an avalanche, and the military-drill-instructions-as-lyrics is brilliant.  

3. “Roforofo Fight.” Fela’s “really long instrumental intro where I play sax and then keyboards and then maybe let someone else take a solo, then I go to the song” formula can wear thin if he doesn’t bring his compositional a-game, but he brings it here and then some. The way the horns work as part of the rhythm section is pretty thrilling.

4. “Gentleman.” In which Fela throws out his usual formula and gets right to the meat of the song up front. Man, I love the lyrics of this song—it’s anti-colonialism at its most eloquent and sardonic. Our reflex is to take the word gentleman as a positive, but here, not being a gentleman becomes a rejection of foreign influence.

Rounding out the top ten: “ITT,” “Jeun Ko Ku (Chop ‘n’ Quench),” “Ako,” “Expensive Shit,” “Sorrow, Tears & Blood,” “Opposite People.”