The godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti was born 84 years ago today. Although we tragically lost Fela 25 years ago from AIDS, since his death, his influence on contemporary global music has managed to grow exponentially with an increasing number of bands and artists across the world creating their own specific take on the genre — and sound — he created over 50 years ago.
Kuti’s work is bold and defiantly pro-Black and pan-African. But he wasn’t without controversy and he could often be contradictory: His views on women and their roles in society would offend and infuriate most feminists — and most modern women. He was a man of his times and culture, and as a result he’s conflicting and flawed. And yet, the man and his work are so singular, so incomparable.
Happy birthday, Fela! Happy birthday wherever you are!