Fela Kuti is one of the world’s greatest artists to have ever existed, this is a legend that even in his death still inspires the global scene with his songs and style of music.
Fela Kuti didn’t just make good music; he made great music that could be expressed in terms of activism, culture, and life and even be sampled years after his death.
To this date, Fela is recognized as a spiritualist, Pan-Africanist, revolutionary, and the Father of Afrobeat music all over the world.
While he has been sampled several times by Nigerian Artists, Foreign artists have also made use of his discographies to create a record of their own.
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To honour Fela Kuti and his lasting impact on music, we’ve compiled a list of songs that sampled his work.
Whatcha Gonna Do- Missy Elliott, Timbaland
In 2001, Missy Elliot dropped “Whatcha Gonna Be.” It featured Timbaland, artiste/producer, on the song and sampled Fela’s “Colonial Mentality”.
Timberland had a good time on the chorus of this song from 2001. ‘Whatcha Gonna Do,’ as is typical of his work, departs from Fela’s concept of rawness in sound to reveal a raunchiness commonly found in nightclubs. Missy’s outlandish rap styles bolster the theme even further.
“Whatcha Gon’ Do” was released on Elliott’s Miss E… So Addictive album
J. Cole- Let Nas Down
Fela’s music has got a strong following outside of Nigeria, who sometimes appear to value it more than Nigerians do.
J. Cole, a talented American hip-hop musician, sampled Fela’s song “Gentleman” on the tune “Let Nas Down.”
The song which appeared on his 2013 studio album, “Born Sinner”, peaked at number 55 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs of Billboard music chart.
The song begins with Fela’s stunning sax renderings and gradually transitions into fairly constant beats and smooth rapping. Fela’s sample colours J. Cole’s freestyles in bold strokes, despite the fact that their themes aren’t the same.
Common, Lonnie “Pop” Lynn- Pops Rap III… All My Children
Common released “Pops Rap III…All My Children” in the year 2000, which featured his father, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn. When you first hear the song, you might not notice the Fela Kuti sample; in fact, it begins out sampling Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime.”
The delivery of Fela’s melodies in ‘Pops Rap III… All My Children is so subtle that it can be overlooked. However, a close listen reveals Fela’s relaxing arrangement hidden behind Pop’s pure spoken poetry and dreamy, sunset soul vibes. To make its mark, the music relies on a catchy riff from ‘Water No Get Enemy.’
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Kelly Rowland- Hitman
Those familiar with Fela’s work will be able to determine the origins around the 3-second mark on Kelly’s Hitman.
She absorbs the instrumentation on ‘Mr. Follow Follow‘ hook, line, and sinker, and deftly sprinkles pop components.
It’s packed with head-bopping beats, but it can’t equal the soul conveyed by Fela’s sax.
The Roots- I Will Not Apologize
After a chance encounter with Fela’s music, Questlove and his band, The roots a hip hop/neo soul band, formed in 1987 became fascinated with Fela’s sound.
Because of the band’s interest in Fela, their 2009 song “I will not apologise” sampled Fela’s “Grammarticalogylisationalism Is the Boss.”
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- ‘Fear Not for Man’ sampled on Mos Def, ‘Fear Not of Man’
- ‘Zombie’ sampled on Beyoncé, ‘Deja Vu’ (‘Homecoming Live’ version)
- “Sorrow Tears and Blood” sampled on Obie Trice, “Spend the Day”
- “Sorrow Tears and Blood” sampled X-Clan, “Grand Verbalizer, What Time Is It?”