Fela Anikulapo Kuti
More than a Nigerian composer and multi-instrumentalist, Fell Kit was a musical genius that revolutionized the art of African music for a lifetime. One of Africans most controversial musicians, he continued to fight for the rights of the common African man in spite of being harassed, vilified, and even thrown in Jail by the government of Nigeria. Born Leafed Illusion Loudmouth Ransoms-Kit in Absolute, Nigeria on October 15, 1938, his family played an influential role on his political and national movements. Both of his parents were of Yardman descent. Fell’s mother, Finally
Ransoms-Kit, was a leading figure In the nationalist struggle of Nigerian people and anti-colonial movement. His father, Reverend Israel Loudmouth Ransoms-Kit, was a Protestant minister and school principal and also the first president of the Nigerian union of teachers (3). He was the middle child of two brothers, Likely and Bake, who went on to become prestigious medical doctors in their fields. Some say that this was somewhat of the motive behind Kit’s first intentions to be a doctor. Fell was Inspired by deferent genres from Jazz and Funk to Salsa and Calypso with Juju.
From these different styles and realms of music he constructed and engineered a unique style of his own that would forever change the history of African music, which was named Forbear. He died on August 2. 1997. Fell was and Is one of the most powerful and influential African musical engineers that changed the face of Nigeria, musically, politically, and re-established the importance of differential music. As a young boy, Fell watched his older brother grow and become fascinated with the medical nature of things. This seemingly showed as the major hobby for Kit, but he also developed a love for music.
In 1954, Fell Joined a group by the name of the Cool Cats as a singer. The Cool Cats were a band that practiced in the highlight movement. Highlight was the rage of the development of the Lagos music scene that was heavily emerging In the sass. He later attempted to try a career in medicine and, when he was 20 years old, was sent to London to study medicine (1). When finding that the career wasn’t suitable nor anything that he wanted to do for the long term, Kit decided to stay in touch with his musical side and studied music at the Trinity
College of Music. At Trinity, Fell formed Kola Libidos, which was a also a band that performed highlight music and fused it with Jazz. From the period of being a member of the Cool Cats and rocking with the highlight movement and throughout and after his time of study at Trinity, Fell developed his own peculiar, unusual sound. Kit intertwined the current listening of highlight music with the percussive sounds of early Jazz and reproduced a very distinctive style that would later become to be known as Forbear.
It was in 1968 that Kit made this style of African music official ND, within the year he had spent most of his time promoting this new sound all over the USA with Kola Libidos on tour (1). At this time was where Cut become very fond of and fell in love with American Jazz music. Years after the tour, Fell returned back to his native homeland of Nigeria and opened a nightclub, the Shrine. This is also the From here on out, he continued to play with and use his creation of Forbear and wow the audiences and singers in the nightclub with his band play. However, the intricate work and small, long-measured songs were not appealing heavily to the
American culture and this set up a huge roadblock for Kit to gain commercial acceptance from the states. Another factor was the Mr.. Kit was against performing a song after recording it, which also drawn a large amount of disinterest from the United States. Being involved in his political movements, Fell continued to attack the Nigerian government. In 1979, Kit started his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People). Though this showed as a strong and powerful movement that the people were quickly growing on, it lasted very shortly. In 1983, the military regained their overpayment power over Nigeria.
This was at the very same time that Muhammad Briar, one of Kit’s rivals and political opponents accused him of a currency smuggling charge. The charge was very controversial and background evidence showed much speculation, but Kit was sentenced to 5 years in prison (5). Throughout the sentence, Kit’s band continued to put out great music and campaign for the release of Kit. T-shirts reading, “Free Fell” were being worn everywhere. In 1986, a pardon from the government released Kit and freed him due to another governmental change in power. 1 years later, on August 2 at pm in his Lagos, Nigeria, Kit was laid to rest.
Some say that the condition was an illness that he had refused to get treatment for, and rumors say that Fell had been diagnosed with a prostate cancer years prior. Later, reports had confirmed that Fell passed away due to complications from auto immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (4). The untimely death of Fell Kit was a suspiring shock to the entire African community. Forbear was truly an indescribable and moving genre of music that won the hearts of many in the African culture and sparked the attention of the Americans that were skeptical about his music.
Fell Kit’s Forbear redefined the meaning of highlight Jazz music and established the sound of African Jazz. Kit experimented with many forms of contemporary music. It’s a combination of Your music, psychedelic rock, Jazz, highlight funk, and chanted vocals. This music is very colorful and features percussive chants, call and responses, complex interacting rhythms (2). Much of Forbear music borrows from the native, “tinker pan,” African style percussion that Fell Kit picked up while he was on a studying session in Ghana.
One who had a significant role in he upcoming of Forbear was Tony Allen, a drummer for 20 years in Africa 70′ and a longtime friend of Kit. According to Fell, his importance and contribution to Forbear could not be overstated. Fell once famously stated that, “without Tony Allen, there would be no Forbear. ” Regarding song length, Fell refused to bow to the music industry preference for 3-minute tracks, neither did he comply with the appeal to water down his strong political lyrics (4). He believed and argued with a passion that the gimmicks of pop music were a gimmick and lack creativity and substance.
The act that Forbear in now winning the hearts of many today in its original form suggests that Fell’s strive for originality on earth was successful as he had awoke a sensibility in people to appreciate authenticity and something real. Fell Kit has shown himself as a very influential person and has altered the lives of many people. One thing about this artist that I highly respect about him was his emphasis on of music, Kit rallied against the movement saying that it was a, “fake,” industry and was only focusing on making financial and social improvement and lacking substance.
Musically, this situation is similar to the present time because there are vast amounts of artists in the industry today that seemingly lose their originality and lack creativity once they hit the mainstream. I relate to Fell Kit in this sense because, like him, I yearn for and encourage songs that have substance and meaning to them. Having little knowledge on Kit, I learned that a sedentary lifestyle can kill. From his numerous involvements in political, musical, and international activity, I learned that it was very vital to be active and explore the world and share my gift internationally.
Fell Kit shared his new sound of Forbear, offering it as a gift to the world. Though there is no comparison to such an accomplished artist, I would relate myself to Kit in the motto of forward progression, being an activist, and sharing my original gift to the world. Fell was a powerful and inspiring person, who changed the lives of many. One of Fell Kit’s widely recognized and greatly appreciated pieces that he performed numerous times during his time of touring in the Americas was , “Teacher don’t Teach me no Nonsense. Until this day, this piece is listened to heavily from amazing audiences in Kit’s well-known play “Fell,” to being used as a teaching tool for African Jazz teachers within the classroom. This piece uniquely describes the creativity and flashiness of Kit’s work. Going along the typical rubric of Forbear music, the piece starts off with a percussive snare drum beating in 4-4 measure, followed by accompaniment of the hi-hats. Within the 5th measure (3rd minute of the song), you begin to hear more instruments being added from more percussion (bongos, cymbals, woodblocks), saxophones, harmonicas, trumpets, guitars, and bass nines.
From this, you can identify that the texture of the music is extremely polyphonic, and if not the group chants and call-and-responses surely remove any doubt about the polyphonic texture. Fell sends a call to the children and, in unison, they rhythmically answer. From now, everyone begins to chant the response. This is somewhat the musical bridge of the piece that gives the instrumentation a rest, for a while. During the resting atmosphere, the dynamics and pitch of the music have toned down, like going into the falling action off of the climax.