‘Let’s start…what we have come in the room to do…’ this 3rd set kicks off with the Live! With Ginger Baker record. Ginger, if you didn’t know, he gained his fame from playing with Cream and later Blind Faith. He sat in on this record (with Tony Allen) and was the start of a long friendship between he and Fela. He eventually built the 16-track ARC Studios in Ikeja (the area of Lagos where the Kalakuta Republic is).
Next, is Roforofo Fight. Trevor Schoonmaker, who started the Fela Project and put together a great book called ‘Fela: From West Africa to West Broadway’ (which is a collection of essays from people who were either influenced by Fela or were close to him personally), and ‘Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti‘ translated this song perfectly.
‘Fela sings about a very angry friend who, against all the demonstrations of his colleagues, engages in a nasty brawl in a pool of mud with an unspecified assailant. Consequently, the mud (roforofo) claims both assailant and defender as the two brawlers come to “look like twins,” their spearate identities indistinguishable in their grotesque, muddied appearance.’
The flip is nice too, Go Slow is a fitting 17 minute complaint about the traffic in Lagos. Zero G just put up the cd re-issue of this that also has an extra 4 songs. (I’ve included them in this download as well) One of which is ‘Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am’ which is hands down Fela’s most beautiful song. It’s about the daily struggles, and how society lacks compassion, and will kick someone when they are down. Baaba Maal and Taj Mahal did an incredible cover of this on the Red, Hot, and Riot record a few years back. If you don’t own that record yet, you’re sleeping (its been 5 years now!). The Red Hot orginization has donated 7 million to AIDS relief around the world, so no…I’m not going to post it. I’m just going to give you that one song to give you an idea of how incredible it is. So if you haven’t done so already…go buy it!
Next, is the lp Alagbon Close, which is the Lagos headquarters of the federal government. The lyrical melody on this one is one of his strongest. The lyrics themselves are an angry discourse of all the goings on in the Alagbon Close. He Miss Road is a nice break…much more atmospheric and relaxed than the others…
Everything Scatter re-tells what happens when the police come into the Kalakuta Republic, and the b-side ‘Who No Know Go Know’ is his call for African Unity. The last record in this set is Ikoyi Blindness. This marks the end of Fela ‘Ransome’ Kuti and the beginning of Fela ‘Anikulapo’ Kuti. He said that Ransome was a slave name, and so he changed it to Anikulapo which means “he who carries death in his pouch”. He believed that he could not be killed, and also that because he is selfless with his music and plays it for all humanity that he actually gets younger.