Knitting Factory Records Celebrates Fela Kuti with Deluxe Reissues

picture-21The forthcoming release of The Best of the Black President signifies the rebirth of Knitting Factory Records. Earlier this year, KFR licensed the 45-album Fela Kuti catalogue. Over the next 18 months, they will release remasters of all the Fela CDs in unique digi-packs with the original artwork, as well as certain releases on vinyl for the first time in North America.  KFR will also be giving the first official release to the entire Koola Lobitos catalogue- this was Fela’s highlife band which he fronted through the 60′s.

The Best of the Black President, to be released October 27th, compiles thirteen of the most popular Fela compositions, all fully remastered. It will be released in two forms, one as a deluxe version including a bonus DVD.

In addition to The Knitting Factory Records reissues, the first ever official Fela Kuti website has been launched (Fela.net), and a Broadway musical (Fela!) opens in November at Eugene O’Neil Theatre. Also keep your eyes peeled for Felabration events happening across the country and the world in mid-October, to celebrate the birthday of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

J. Period and K’NAAN – Part 1 of The Messengers

J.Period & K’NAAN are pleased to present the first installment of The Messengers, a tribute to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley & Bob Dylan. Episode #1 pays tribute to Fela, Nigeria’s eminent musical activist and arguably the most influential artist to emerge from Africa this century. Fela grew to international fame with his revolutionary, political views and an innovative style of music called “Afrobeat,” a genre he invented, combining soul, funk and African rhythms. Join J.Period & Somali-born MC K’NAAN as they pay tribute to Fela by remixing and reinventing his classic work on part 1 of The Messengers.

Guest MC’s include: Zumbi (Zion I) & Bajah (Dry Eye Crew) from Sierra Leone.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD [zip file]

The Messengers: Fela Kuti, Bob Marley & Bob Dylan

cc-thumbJ Period and K’NAAN collaborate to form The Messengers mixtape.  The Messengers is a project dedicated to three different music legends: Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s eminent musical activist; Bob Marley, Jamaica’s emissary of struggle and unity; and Bob Dylan, America’s reluctant Civil Rights song leader.

Weaving afro-beat, reggae, ska, folk music and rock into this genre-bending musical experience, The Messengers stretches the boundaries of hip hop—and the mixtape genre itself. Remixing the classic work of Fela, Marley and Dylan, The Messengers captures the timelessness of their sounds and the continued urgency of their messages.

J.Period & K’NAAN will pay tribute to each of “The Messengers” individually with a new release every Tuesday in September:

Fela Kuti (September 1)

Bob Marley (September 8 )

Bob Dylan (September 15)

The Messengers in its entirety (including additional bonus tracks and artwork) on September 22.

Download “The Messenger” (Digi EP), a 3-song sneak preview of The Messengers

Femi Kuti’s Club Shut Down By Nigerian Officials

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Fela Kuti’s son’s music venue, the new Africa Shrine, was closed by Nigerian authorities last Tuesday morning. According to Fela Kuti’s oldest child and co-manger of the club, Yeni Kuti, the family was given a notice on Monday evening, stating that they had 48 hours to “to abate the nuisance and restore the land to a conducive environment.” The letter from Lagos authorities held the club responsible for “noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic.” By the following morning, the establishment had been permanently closed by the government. Yeni told AFP, “I’m shocked, indignant.”

Fela Anikulapo Kuti‘s original Shrine built in the seventies suffered the very same fate when it was forcibly closed by the Nigerian authorities shortly after his death in 1997.

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force are on tour in America and are collecting signatures at every stop.

Femi Kuti’s MySpace

Giant Step’s Resident 22: Afropunk Festival, Ronnie Spector and Afrika Bambaataa

Photo of Afrika Bambaataa and crew © Phillip Angert
View photos here. Archive link here.

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Hear ye, hear ye! The negroes are coming! 2008 Afropunk Festival is in town! This year at BAM, there’s a skate ramp (courtesy of some hefty corporate might) and performances from artists like Kudu and Proton. But as luck would have it, I missed most of the festival’s kickoff because I was in Boston for July 4th hanging out with my mother. We watched the fireworks peel off into the sky above The Charles River as Rascal Flatts saluted Old Glory. Them pretty sparkle lights sure soothed any qualms I have about the holiday’s dubious celebratory overtones. When I got back to New York I went to Franklin Park, the bestest new bar ever. Tucked away on a sleepy residential street in Crown Heights, Park houses an outcrop of beautiful people enjoying the formidable selection of beers and grooving to D’Angelo, Fela Kuti and remixes of Fela Kuti featuring D’Angelo. Afterwards, I went to the West Village to dispense some birthday knocks to Lucas of DJ duo Sweatshop Labor at Love. Fun most foul was had by all.

While I missed most of the Afropunk kick-off, on Sunday I caught neo-negro-rock Svengali James Spooner’s latest film, White Lies, Black Sheep. Personally, I was a fan of the proliferation of male crotch shots; I mean the film was packed with celluloid man ass that you just don’t see these days. Yes, of course there is the storyline about negotiating blackness and personal identity in this mockumentary set in the heady downtown NYC rock scene. However, that storyline is weakened by the film’s desperate lunges at messages that were touched on in Afropunk, Spooner’s excellent 2003 documentary on coloreds in the rock and scene. In a admirable attempt to drive home the idea that tokens should own their otherness, stereotypes skew the film’s impact as a monotonous pattern arises: white girls = airheads, black girls = depressed, white guys = dickheads, black guys = slutty and depressed. But crotch shots aren’t the movie’s sole redeeming factor as the soundtrack kicks fuckin’ ass, the actors grapple valiantly with the script and cameos from real club lords like Michael T. and Queen Majesty lend authenticity.

The same day at McCarren Park Pool, girl group queen Ronnie Spector hit the stage. The black rocktress ambled on stage in a saucy all black bustier number but she was soon felled by the oppressive heat and performed most of the set perched on an amplifier. Sadly, she was pitchy and sounded like she was passing a melon. And not to compare female Rock and Roll Hall of Famers but maybe that lack of energy is why Tina Turner is Tinaaaah: The Legendary Survivor and Ronnie comes off as a legend of beehived kitsch.

But if you wanna talk legends, the conversation has to turn to Afrika Bambaataa. The father of hip hop packed the Hudson HotelGiant Step’s latest DJ event last Monday and demonstrated his many levels of, as VH1 would say, totally awesomeness. When you’re credited with creating a genre as culturally significant as hip hop, all you are ever required to do at a gig is show up and enjoy the sweet, sweet ass-kisses. But Bambaataa turned the joint out spinning everything from comfort disco (Cheryl Lynn, Sugarhill Gang) to whippersnapper jams like Reggaeton from Tego Calderón, Baltimore Club remixes of Kelis and speaker-shattering Trance. Bambaataa has every right to curmudgeonly cling to the hip hop of yesteryear but his nimble curiosity means he’ll evolve not only as a selector but an artist. And that’s legendary status, honey.