Fela Kuti - Gentleman (50th Anniversary Edition)

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Fela Kuti (1938-1997) was a Nigerian musician, producer, arranger, political radical and outlaw, and the originator of Afrobeat. A titanic musical and socio-political voice, Fela’s legacy spans decades and genres, touching on jazz, pop, funk, hip-hop, rock and beyond.

1973’s ‘Gentleman’ is the seventh in the series of celebratory Fela 50th Anniversary reissues. Like its predecessors in the series, this version will be available on exclusive coloured vinyl (Igbo Smoke) and the LP will be wrapped in a gold foil obi strip with a brief essay on the album and Fela’s global impact on music. Like Fela’s other early 1970s releases, he used each side of his LPs to create a deep groove that pulled the listener in and follows with metaphoric lyrics that call out and critique the corrupt hangover of colonialism.

‘Gentleman’ is the last of Fela’s early 1970s albums recorded with the Africa 70. The title track can be interpreted literally or as a metaphor concerning a wider issue. Fela deftly addresses the colonialism-induced, inferiority complex which led many in Africa’s new governing elites to reject African style, concepts of beauty, and modes of behaviour in favour of European imports.

‘Gentleman’’s other tracks, ‘Fe Fe Ne Eye Fe’ and ‘Igbe’, have more direct, less metaphorical lyrics. On ‘Fe Fe Ne Eye Fe’, an Ashanti motto from Ghana, Fela tells a woman dumped by her boyfriend that she must get over the heartache and move on. On ‘Igbe’, Fela declares that anyone who betrays a friend is shit, and that anybody who lacks self-respect is shit - something you want to expel from your body as soon as possible. He sings the word ‘shit’ in several Nigerian languages, so there is no misunderstanding.

Available on Igbo Smoke (clear with a black wisp) vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket with a gold foil obi strip and liner notes by Chris May.