It is Felabration 2017 and 20 years after his death, the legacy of Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti is showing no sign of slowing down at all. Apart from his conscious music and unique melody, Fela would be remembered for carving a niche for himself in world’s music industry.
Even though he is dead and long gone, his special genre of music, Afrobeat remains and it is now been played not only in Nigeria but worldwide. Apart from two of his children, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti who are constantly flying the flag of undiluted Afrobeat, here are five other international bands that are playing the genre like Fela.
Talking about a group that plays afrobeat almost exactly like Fela, Antibalas stands out. The group’s name means “bulletproof” in Spanish. Formed in 1998, a year after Fela’s death the group is based in Brooklyn, New York.
Formed by Martín Perna originally as Conjunto. The group has featured several original members of Fela’s band including Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tunde Williams, Oghene Kologbo, Nicolas Addey, Dele Sosimi, Ola Jagun among others. In the summer of 2008, Antibalas was featured off-Broadway in Fela!, a musical celebrating the life of Fela Kuti.
Kokolo is an American Afrobeat band also from New York City. The group was formed in year 2001 by songwriter/producer Ray Lugo. If not for the accents processed by the band’s vocalists, and backup singers, one would mistake them for the original afrobeat crooner, Fela and his Egypt 80 band.
In order not to be a mere clone of Fela Africa 70 the Shaoline Afronauts spiced Afrobeat with elements of avant-garde jazz. The Adelaide, Australia based instrumental group was formed in 2008, a year after Fela’s death just like the Antibalas. Even though none of the group members are from Nigeria, they have a track titled “Ojo Aba Meta”, a Yoruba word for Saturday.
Newen Afrobeat was created in 2009. It is the first Afrobeat Band in the Sout American country of Chile. According to the band’s website, the group “is the answer from this part of the world to the style created by Fela Kuti”. The group has performed with big Afrobeat artistes including Oghenekologbo a key member of the late Fela’s band and Fela’s son Seun Kuti.