Fela is the GOAT of Afrobeats. He set the path that many follow today and despite passing on 20 years ago, his music like true quality music continues to stand out and remains evergreen. The GOAT is timeless and we see this manifest regularly in music worldwide with the likes of J Cole, Nas and Timbaland having tapped into the sauce at different points in their careers. This time, we choose to highlight five times that today’s Nigerian stars took a note or two from the pioneer of Afrobeat music.
Wizkid on Jaiye Jaiye – Lady.
Current Afrobeat poster boy, Wizkid has always described Fela as an idol. Before the STARBOY music started going global with Come Closer and Ojuelegba, Wiz was tapping into Fela’s sauce as we see him do on Jaiye Jaiye which also features Fela’s son, Femi Kuti. On Jaiye Jaiye, Wiz goes off with some lines your parents will definitely testify to owning their earlier days while Femi shows he’s the true son of his father with remarkable work on the saxophone. Wiz sings the same lines we hear on Lady. They both claim that African women do not take kindly to being called women and rather prefer being called ladies.
Burna Boy on Boom Boom Boom, Temper Remix and Afrobeat Freestyle.
Back in Fela’s heyday, he was managed by Benson Idonije who also happens to be Burna Boy’s grandfather. When Burna Boy began creating music, it was normal that the GOAT was one of his idols and over the years, Burna has sometimes controversially and other times organically tried to align himself with Fela. On the controversial side, back in 2013, Burna took to the stage of Felabration in briefs, a move he believed was a mark of respect. The criticism that met Burna was swift with many including Seun Kuti opposing it. Organically, Burna has sparsely spoken out against the government as we see on Soke and suggested a willingness to die for Nigeria. Burna has also listened to Fela’s melodies and added his own touch to transform today’s music. On two occasions, he has sampled Sorrow Tears and Blood. The first occurrence was on Afrobeat Freestyle off Burna’s debut mixtape and then more recently on the remix to Temper with Skales where he employs identical lines as before but absolutely transforms Temper. On Boom Boom Boom off Burna’s debut album, we also see him use “I never tell finish” which was first heard on Fela’s 1974 track, Lady.
Tiwa Savage on Fela Interlude- Lady
On Tiwa’s debut album she pays tribute to Fela with an aptly titled track, Fela Interlude. On the short track, Tiwa slows down Lady and parts and harmonises on a three part trio as she hits high notes with the same lines that have been utilized by Wizkid and Burna Boy.
Oritsefemi on Double Wahala- Confusion Break Bone
Oritsefemi’s biggest hit till date is a remake of Fela’s Confusion Break Bones and the success of the track serves as another testament of how evergreen the legend’s music remains. On the original record which was released in 1990 and stands at a lengthy 30 minutes, Fela speaks out on police and army brutality- something that had led to the death of his mother, Funmilayo Ransome- Kuti.
Image by Dennis Osadebe