All in Music

Hurricane season, Miami Carnival, October 2011 – I visited South Beach, Miami for the first time with two of my friends. They had been to the city for Memorial Day Weekend, but this was all our first time in Miami for Carnival. I was the last one to book my flight and arrived hours after they had already landed at Miami International. Once we all found each other we met up, we got picked up and got driven to a private residence that we rented out for the weekend. The entire weekend was booked with parties in the morning and night. On the third night we headed out on the interstate highway to a party in Fort Lauderdale with two of my friends and a mutual friend who lived in Miami – Let’s call her “Lisa”. Lisa drove us to the party since she would not be drinking and wanted us to have a good time in the city. After the party, all drunk in her car, we started heading back to South Beach. I was extremely tired, but figured I should stay up with Lisa, while the other two guys fell asleep. Lisa started playing some old school reggae and I found out she was related to Sade.

 

One of the best parts of writing this blog is the different perspective that I gather about a particular topic. When I started seeking personal accounts of interaction with Fela Kuti and what happens at the Shrine, I realized that while the accounts are very similar, I manage to come across some interesting accounts that I think are worth sharing with the readers. This particular conversation is with a Nigerian musician who attended The Shrine as an 18-year old boy. His accounts are quite interesting but also the format for this conversation is a bit different. I have incorporated the questions I asked the individual to give it a reporting feel. I might go with this format for the conversations going forward. His responses to my questions about Fela Kuti and The Shrine are below.

Shrine: “a place regarded as holy because of its associations with a divinity or a sacred person or relic, typically marked by a building or other construction”

I get asked a lot about where my name is derived from and usually people assume I was named after Fela’s son – Femi Kuti. I wasn’t. However, being associated with a name like Fela Kuti is always a great feeling. In my opinion there is no greater rebel in the history of music than Fela Kuti. Through his music, interviews and lifestyle, he defied the traditional and cultural norms of his time. I remember first hearing about his music as a young boy, which was met with negative propaganda against him. When I got older, I found a bunch of CDs with his music and I would play it on the weekends and I learned about social justice, politics, music and life. I loved what I was learning to and Fela became one of my heroes. One of the symbols of the Fela era was his Shrine, located in Lagos City. I wanted to know more about what happened in The Shrine, so I reached out to find out more from someone with first-hand experience of the time period, who also attended The Shrine.

 

As I continue to explore Fuji music and the artists from Nigeria that have had the greatest influence in its evolution, I come across a few names that I don’t recall ever hearing their music. A week ago I was having a conversation with a musician and I mentioned the blog to him. As he scrolled through the different conversations I’ve had on the blog, he noted the conversation about Wasiu being the artist that modernized Fuji music. He disagreed with the conclusion. I asked him why he felt so strongly about his opinion and it was at this time he mentioned the name Adewale Ayuba, the originator of Bonsue Fuji. This is a special conversation for me because my objective with this blog is to spark conversation that differ in opinions about a particular artist, genre of music and other forms of entertainment that impact culture.

I am a fan of artists that craft their music to address socio-economic, political or economic issues facing a group of people. I consider many of these artists historians given that many years after the music is released, we can go back the listen and gain insight about a particular period. There’s a long list of artists in Hip Hop that resonate with fans because of the depth of their lyrics. Artists such as Tupac, Nas, Mos Def and most recently J Cole and Kendrick Lamar have used their platform to address issues through their music. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister apparently was an artist I discovered used Fuji music in similar ways to the aforementioned artist.