The Best Of The Black President signifies the rebirth of Knitting Factory Records.
Over the next 18 months, all 45 Fela titles will be remastered and re-released in unique digi-packs with the original artwork. This reissue series will also mark the first time all of Fela's titles will be released on vinyl in North America, along with the first official release of the entire catalog of Fela's 1960s highlife band Koola Lobitos.
The first release of the series, The Best Of The Black President compiles 13 of the most popular Fela compositions. The deluxe edition of the CD comes with a DVD featuring segments from the film 'Music is the Weapon', performances from the Berlin Jazz Festival and interviews with choreographer/director Bill T. Jones and Fela biographer Carlos Moore.
Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones is the director and choreographer of the new Broadway musical, FELA!, based on the life and music of the legend. The critically acclaimed musical will open at the Eugen O'Neill Theatre in New York on November 23. Sold-out crowds were left dancing in the aisles during its premiere last summer at Off-Broadway 37 Arts, as the world renowned Antibalas and otther members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, performed Fela's music live onstage.
"The timing couldn't be more perfect," says Knitting Factory Records label manager Ian Wheeler. "With the play opening, it made the most sense to start the reissue series in the fall. We are taking great care working with Fela's estate to make the reissue series the most true to the artist's original concepts than ever before. We have a lot of fun ideas up our sleeves too."
The impact of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's music in Africa - and worldwide - cannot be overstated. Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, he was a revolutionary and Africa's musical genius, the creator of Afrobeat - a genre combining traditional African highlife, jazz, James Brown funk grooves and Latin rhythms into a unique, toxic mix that is wholly his own. Fela's politically inflammatory songs laid bare the corruption, violence, and greed of the ruling regimes across the continent and world. Fela was arrested over a hundred times by the Nigerian government. Ultimately 1000 soldiers invaded and destroyed the Kalakuta Republic - Fela's living and performing compound that he shared with his 27 wives and mother - sending nearly all of the inhabitants to the hospital, or worse. Despite the death of his mother in the siege, Fela never stopped fighting the powers of imperialism, colonialism and racism with, as the legendary Fela Kuti put it, music as his weapon.
In support of this re-launch of Fela Kuti's music, Giant Step has organized official Felabration events in more than 15 cities across North America throughout the month of October; this outstanding schedule of Felabrations will bring together some of the best DJs, musicians, and promoters around to celebrate the life, music, and birthday of Fela Kuti. With the support of esteemed DJs such as Rich Medina, DJ Spinna, Ron Trent, DJ Nu-Mark, DJ Day, Jeremy Sole, DJ Kemit, J-Justice, Adam Gibbons, DJ Sun, Chicken George and Frank Gossner, as well as artists such as Roy Ayers, WUNMI, Ikebe Shakdown, Baba Ola Jagun, Amon, and many more, these Felabrations will unite the diverse communities and Tastemakers across the country that are instrumental in keeping Fela's music alive.
Free Download: "Zombie" (Right-click, save as)
Check out the full 2009 Felabrations schedule.
CD1: Water No Get Enemy*
CD2: Roforofo Fight