Celebrate Fela Kuti's Birthday w/ TIDAL's FELABRATION Playlist--Curated By Erykah Badu, Questlove, Talib Kweli + More!
The musical genius and cultural tenacity of Fela Kuti still sends shivers down spines. It goes far, far deeper than homage cuts and Broadway musicals—Fela was and always will be a lifeforce. And while it’s been nearly two decades since the Nigerian band leader passed away, our collective gratitude has only grown.
It’s no secret that some of hip-hop and soul’s most prolific and creative minds have looked to Fela’s catalog as a near-limitless trove of inspiration. Now, TIDAL has compiled a round-up of beloved Fela tunes curated by Questlove, Erykah Badu, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Ziggy Marley and Rich Medina. Packed with classics like “Zombie” and “Black Man’s Cry” along with rare recordings that have only recently been unearthed, this new list isn’t necessarily an exhaustive Fela set—rather, it’s a compendium of rhythms and melodies that have resonated most with modern greats.
“Fela Kuti shows us that the music of the oppressed must always be connected to the struggle,” Kweli said as he turned in his set of selections. “It is never made just for the sake of making something beautiful, it has purpose that goes far beyond entertainment. Fela taught us how to be exactly who we are and to be unapologetic about it.” Questlove, for his part, finds himself drawn to Fela’s commitment to his fellow man. “Not many people are willing to suffer for their craft.”
It goes even deeper for Black Thought, who found himself opening up and identifying with Fela’s Nigerian Afrobeat sound in a way he’d never before experienced. “The spirit and feel of Fela’s music became the soundtrack for the best part of my life,” he said.
And so, whether you’re a longtime fan whose record shelves burst under the weight of Fela’s catalog, or are just beginning to discover the deep, hypnotic trance that awaits the listener within these songs, there’s no better way to celebrate Kuti’s legacy than sinking into the sound itself.