Fela Kuti, Roforofo Fight / The Fela Singles

Jess Harvell

By Jess Harvell

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Roforofo Fight / The Fela Singles

Fela Kuti
Setting the standard for out-there political African funk.

Fela's first true masterpiece, Roforofo Fight was cut in 1971, and is where the songs exploded, the horn charts became cut from '40s movie-serial epics, and the artist's lyrical mix of political commentary, jackleg mythology and party chanting was born. From here on out, Fela's songs don't really change so much as get lighter or darker, funkier or more laid back, deeper or more humorous. Having established his basic musical writ, he proceeded to spend 20 years adding and subtracting to this matrix of Brownian funk, traditional African percussion and oceanic jazz. It's paired with a collection of contemporaneous tracks released as (very long) seven-inches, most notably the jagged "Shenshema."