Thursday, 14 December 2017



 It's almost impossible to overstate the impact and importance of Fela Anikulapo (Ransome) Kuti (or just Fela as he's more commonly known) to the global musical village: producer, arranger, musician, political radical, outlaw. He was all that, as well as showman par excellence, inventor of Afro-beat.

“Jeun Ko Ku,” a satire about gluttony and Fela's first major hit in West Africa. In Broken English, the title means “chop and quench,” which, in turn, means “eat and die” in Standard English. Lyrically, the standout track is the closing “Je'Nwi Temi” (“don't gag me”), a critique of the ...

It will be appropriate at this point to discus Fela’s relation with record companies EMI, Polygram, and Decca particularly since ZOMBIE was used during the Anya tribunal by the army to justify the burning down of Kalakuta. Fela was accused, by some of these record companies based in Nigeria as difficult to deal with. Concretely there was nothing any of these companies did to help advance the financial blockade Fela was experiencing from the hands of the Obasanjo regime and to make things worse, all the companies were holding back from releasing any new albums from him for fear of reprisals from the military government.

The Album "Jeun Ko Ku (Chop 'n Quench)"
With regards to EMI, most of Fela’s early career recordings were done with the EMI Nigeria a subsidiary of EMI United Kingdom. While Fela was signed to its Nigerian subsidiary, EMI Nigeria systematically authorised her parent company in England to release in the European market most of Fela’s works without paying royalties for the foreign releases. Whenever Fela demanded to be paid for the overseas releases, EMI regional director at that time, Michael West later replaced by Mr. Plumley usually claimed that the records were not doing well in the market, a claim that Fela judged ridiculous if one takes into account the number of albums released.

The company had released twelve of Fela’s albums in the international market, the last a double album. For an artist whose works were not doing well, releasing twelve albums is not convincing from a marketing point of view. Fela confronted EMI management with this argument, demanding that if his records were not selling as the company claims, what was the interest of the company in releasing twelve albums particularly the last a double album? To calm Fela, Michael West and later Plumley authorised an advance of 30,000 Naira (about $45,000) to Fela as royalty. Since EMI was not ready to discuss in detail an international contract with Fela, whenever he needed money he went after the company’s management demanding payment for his back catalogues.
Open eye, open ear, open mouth, open sense"- Fela Kuti

There was the case of a visit in Nigeria by Mr. Plumley who had promised to pay some money to Fela on a previous visit. However when the latter arrived at the company’s office in Lagos, Fela was told that Plumley had gone home. Fela drove to the official residence of the company regional director only to find a security guard at the entrance, after some inquiry of the director’s where-about the security guard informed Fela that the director was away to the airport. We headed to the Ikeja airport in search of Plumley and enquiries at the departure counter, proved helpful as the EMI boss had checked in earlier but was hiding somewhere around the airport vicinity.

Fela decided we should comb the parking area to see if he was in the car. Bingo! Plumley, was waiting for his flight in his car when one of us who accompanied Fela spotted him. He tried to escape seeing Fela heading towards his parked car and without wasting time, Fela shouted “Ole! Ole!”(Thief! Thief! in Yoruba) as the EMI Director tried to escape. In Nigeria, one could get lynched easily with a cry of thief! Within minutes of the cry «thief» you have people running after the alleged thief with sticks, batons and sometimes used tyres to burn the victim alive.

With the aid of people who had assembled at the shout of thief by Fela, the EMI director was apprehended and the police was called in. Plumley and Fela ended-up at the Ikeja Airport police station, the EMI boss was obliged to sign a check worth 25,000 Naira (about $35,000), and promising to settle the problem with Fela before he was allowed to leave the police station by the police. FOR MORE INFORMATION READ FELA, PHENOMENON & LEGACY

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