7 times Nigerian Afro-pop stars drew inspiration from Fela influenced beat

Fela Anikulapo Kuti is arguably the GOAT of Afrobeats. He paved way for many musicians, locally and international and despite passing on 20 years ago, his music is still relevant 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 drew inspiration from the great Fela in different points in their careers. Below, we are highlighting five times that today’s Nigerian stars took a note or two from the pioneer of Afrobeat music.

Wizkid on Jaiye Jaiye – Lady

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Starboy head honcho and Afrobeat singer, Wizkid has always described the great Fela as his idol. Before Wizkid started going beyond Africa with Come Closer and Ojuelegba, Starboy was tapping into Fela’s influenced beat as we see him do on Jaiye Jaiye which also features the son of the legend, Femi Kuti. On Jaiye Jaiye, Wizkid goes off with some lines our 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. Also, Wiz sings the same lines we hear on Lady. The message sent by both was 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

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Back then, Fela was managed by Benson Idonije who also happens to be Burna Boy’s grandfather. When Burna Boy delved into the music scene, it was normal that the Legend 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 aspect, back in 2013, Burna took to the stage in Fela manner of dressing, a move he believed was a mark of respect. The criticism that met Burna was swift with many including one of Fela’s son, Seun Kuti opposing it. Organically, Burna has 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 one 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, Oluwaburna also used “I never tell finish” which was first heard on Fela’s 1974 track, Lady.

Tiwa Savage on Fela Interlude- Lady

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On Tiwa’s debut album she pays homage 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

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Oritsefemi’s biggest song 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 Fela music remains. On the original record which was released in 1990 and stands at a lengthy 30 minutes, Fela calls out the police and army brutality- something that had led to the death of his mother, Funmilayo Ransome- Kuti.

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