Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Koola Lobitos (with Fela Kuti) – “It’s Highlife Time”

Fela Kuti “Expensive S**t” (1974) — Lyrics — Pitchfork review of re-released album

“The album’s centerpiece, lead-off and title track was undoubtedly one of the most influential tracks to the Afro-beat movement, and to artists like the Talking Heads, who experimented with similar tribal rhythms on Fear of Music and their landmark album, 1980’s Remain in Light. Its complex, bongo-centric percussion is tempered with funk guitar, discordant piano, and brass eruptions. And when, six minutes into the semi-improvisational, instrumental jam, Kuti awakens with a yowl and begins his political rant, he changes music forever.”

“Zombie” (1977) — Background information

“The album was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria), during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Kuti was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries…Kuti’s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’s coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier”, referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier…[1978] was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song “Zombie,” which led to Kuti being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Kuti’s musicians deserted him, due to rumors that Kuti was planning to use the entirety of the proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.”

“Mr. Grammarticologylisationalism Is The Boss” (1976)  — Fela’s meditation on language and power — Lyrics

“Sorrow, Tears & Blood” (1977) — Lyrics

“Shuffering And Shmiling” (1978) — Lyrics

“International Thief Thief (ITT) Part 2” (1980) — Lyrics


Musical influences on Afro-beat

The Fela Kuti-James Brown connection


SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL on a few major Afropop artists we didn’t have time to cover in class:

Manu Dibango (Cameroon) — Short Bio — His best-known song “Soul Makossa” — Reception of the song — “Soul Makossa” and the birth of disco —  Interpolated by Michael Jackson in the coda to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” (1982) — A New Yorker piece describes how Dibango had to seek credit, and financial reward, for both “Wanna Be Startin’ Sometin'” and Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” which interpolated Jackson’s interpolation (the article was published shortly after Jackson’s death).

Youssou N’Dour (Senegal) — Allmusic bio — His song “Set” from the 1990 album of the same name (translation of lyrics) inspired a social and artistic movement known as Set-Setal (see the 7th paragraph for explanation) — N’Dour pursues a new direction on his album Egypt (2004) seen here in a live performance — Youssou N’Dour has just announced he will abandon music to enter politics and, it is speculated, run for president of Senegal.

Ali Farka Toure (Mali) — Allmusic bio — Performing “Diaraby” from Talking Timbuktu (1994)

Angélique Kidjo (Benin/Paris) — Allmusic bio — Performance of “Agolo” from 2005


South Africa links

David de Lange – “Suikerbossie” (Sugarbush) 1936 / Doris Day and Frankie Laine version (1952)

Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds – “Mbube” (1939) / The Weavers “Wimoweh” (1951) / Yma Sumac “Wimoweh” (1952) / Miriam Makeba “Mbube” (1960) / The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1969) / Tight Fit – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1982) [music video] / R.E.M. – “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” (1992) / “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in Disney’s The Lion King (1994) / Ladysmith Black Mambazo with the Mint Julips – “Mbube (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)” (1990s) / Nsync “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (ca. 1997) / “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” performed by the French animated duo Pat et Stanley (aka Hippo and Dog) (2000s)

The history of Mbube/Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wikipedia)


Mouth Bow player from neighboring Botswana

Kalimba (aka “mbira”) players in South Africa

South African concertina


Ethnic groups in South AfricaThe colonization of South Africa / The Dutch East India Company / The Afrikaans languageA brief history of apartheid (“apartness”) / Another brief history / Wiki entry on pass laws /  Wiki entry on bantustan / Brief bio of Nelson Mandela / Political history of post-apartheid South Africa / Controversy over the recently passed “Secrecy Bill”

Freedom song – “Freedom is coming”

10 minute video biography of Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba “Pata Pata” (ca. 1967)”  / Version by French-American singer and actress Arielle Dombasle with Malian rapper Mokobé (2011) /  Remix by German house music producers Milk & Honey (2011)

Hugh Masekela “Stimela (The Coal Train)” [live performance from Amandla!]

Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela “South African freedom song”

Peter Gabriel live performance of “Biko” (1986)” dedicated to the anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko

About toyi-toyi Toyi-toyi scene in the film Stander (2003)


Isicathamiya — genre that evolved out of mbube

Mbaqanga — with Mahotella Queens video (1974)

Several tracks from the Next Stop Soweto compilation described in the link above: The Mgababa Queens “Maphuthi” / S. Pilso & His Super Seven – “Kuya Hanjwa” (instrumental) / The Big Four “Wenzani Umoya” / Ubhekitche Namajongosi – “Umaduna Omnyama”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon “Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes” from Paul Simon’s Graceland album (1986) — A recent article article in Glide Magazine discusses Graceland, covering the controversy and critical acclaim surrounding the album, as well as its influence on world music, on the occasion of a 2011 re-release and upcoming 2012 Paul Simon tour featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Kwaito (the genre examined in Cape Town magazine): Arthur Mafokate “Don’t Call Me Kaffir” (1995)

Die Antwoord “Enter the Ninja” (2009)Pitchfork profile

Spoek Mathambo “War on Words” (2011) — Guardian profile of Mathambo and of 21st century kwaito

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