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Fela Kuti

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Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria (1938 – 1997)

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 Oct 1938 – 2 Aug 1997), or simply Fela, was a Nigerian musician and , pioneer of music, human rights activist, political maverick & leader of Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa ‘70.

HMV Magazine ranked him as #46 on a list of the 100 most influential musicians of the 20th century.

The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is essentially a fusion of , , , and traditional Yoruban chants and rhythms. It is characterized by having African-style percussion, vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The endless groove is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song. His band was notable for featuring two baritone saxophones, whereas most groups using this instrument only use one. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles, and can be seen in funk and . Some elements often present in Fela’s music are the within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela’s songs were almost always over 10 minutes in length, some reaching the 20- or even 30-minute marks, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside of Africa. His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language.

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