Born on 15 October 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, into an upper-middle-class family, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is known to be the King of Afrobeat music genre, human rights activist, and political maverick. He lived his life, trying to create a better world through his music.
Aside the likes of Dede Mabiaku, Lagbaja or Femi and Seun Kuti, here are top music stars who draws inspiration from the life and music of Fela.
1. 2face Idibia
It is no doubt that popular music legend, 2face Idibia draws inspiration from the late king of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti. Unlike his colleagues who cashed in on political gains during elections, the Hypertek boss has remained neutral staying off politics. 40-year-old music star once revealed in an interview that asides Bob Marley, his biggest influence in music is Fela.
From his fashion style, to his stage displays and his iconic harmonica, Dapo Oyebanjo better known as D’banj hit our consciousness as a reincarnation of Fela. With Don Jazzy creating well-crafted Afrobeat inspired pop beats, D’banj really played the Fela part until he dumped his Fela styled body hugging attires to bespoke suits and then parted ways with Don Jazzy. D’banj however remains one of the biggest acts who derive inspiration from Fela whom he claims is his mentor.
Did you know that Wizkid inked a tattoo of Fela on his arm? Although he started out as a pop singer, Wizkid has in the past few years embraced the Afrobeat genre in his songs. This is obvious as in the song ‘Jaiye Jaiye’ which features Femi Kuti, and his recent hit single, ‘Ojuelegba’ which remains the Star Boy boss’s most successful single since he began his musical career.
4. Eedris AbdulKareem
Even before teaming up with Femi Kuti to record a tribute to Fela which he titled after the fallen Afrobeat creator, Eedris has always been one of those Fela greatly influenced. ‘Judile’ which was the Remedies breakout single sampled Fela’s music while his 2004 hit, Jaga Jaga was also inspired by the need to speak out about happenings in the nation like Fela would have done. Eedris continue to be one of the top disciples of Fela.
I don’t really know much about W4, but i still remember his 2010 hit single, Kontrol which has remained one of the most popular pop songs ever. Following the release of the track, W4 (real name Adewale Adepoju) took on a new personae and fashion style which was all motivated by the Fela. Many even predicted he was going to step into the vacuum abandoned by D’banj but again, he failed us all. By the way, where is W4?
6. Burna Boy
Well as much as you are advised to overlook Burna Boy’s performance in his underwear at the 2014 Felabration, his Fela influence can simply not be ignored. Burna’s grandfather, Benson Idonije was Fela’s manager so the ‘Don Gorgon’ was simply born into a household where Fela was a musical god. Like Wizkid, Burna Boy also has a tattoo of Fela.
Oritsefemi began his career as a reggae/dancehall act which made it surprising when he revealed that Fela remained his biggest musical influence. His most successful song however also happen to be sample of Fela’s ‘Double Wahala’ which has since relaunched the career of the Ajegunle born act. It was also not surprising when he teamed up with a fellow Fela disciple, D’banj for the remix of the song.
8. Jesse Jagz
The Choc City singer in many ways has proven to be one of Fela’s followers. Jesse has over the years created a niche as an individual who cares less about whose ox is gored. His music like Fela and Bob Marley also focuses on freedom and redemption and the need to realize oneself. The Choc singer also paid tribute to Fela on the song ‘Sunrise’.
9. Sound Sultan
The Naija Ninja boss, Sound Sultan also makes the list of Fela’s disciples. His cover of Fela on the track, ‘Craze World’ as well as his debut, Jangbajantis, Bush Meat and several of his songs, which passes conscious messages further make Sultan another Fela breed.
Asa is one of the few music acts who continue to make unique music which has made her an international brand so little did we wonder when she opened up that Fela was one of her biggest influences.