There is a reason why afrobeat icon Fela Kuti is celebrated around the world and seen as the gold standard for Nigerian music. Embodying all the aspects of a well-rounded musician, he was talented, possessed an amazing stage presence, released classic songs, and used his music as a platform for activism.
Few have come close to the Fela’s legacy, but there are a good number of contemporary musicians who have been apparently influenced by the legend.
From Burna Boy to Falz, here are 4 Nigeria artists who have been influenced by Fela
When it comes to musicians influenced by Fela, no comes to mind as much as Afrofusion star Burna Boy. Throughout his career, the “Anybody” crooner has showcased Fela’s influence through his music, stage performances, and fashion style. To further prove his admiration for the legend, he once corrected an interviewer who hailed him as the “King of Afrobeats” saying, “As far as I’m concerned, only Fela Kuti did Afrobeat”. This, added to the fact that his grandfather was Fela’s manager, makes him one of the artists with the closest ties to Fela Kuti.
One of the best performers to ever grace the music industry, D’banj has many attributes that make his musicality similar to that of Fela Kuti. With his signature harmonica and a big personality, D’banj is reminiscent of Fela in so many ways. Though he may not be in his prime anymore, D’banj has still retained many aspects of Fela’s influence in his musicality.
If there is one thing Falz has in common with Fela Kuti, it is his penchant for drawing attention to social ills through his music. As a testament to this, Falz sampled the legend in his 2019 album Moral Instruction, which was dedicated to calling out social vices such as corruption, police brutality, religious intolerance, and prostitution.
Eedris Abdulkareem is best known for his 2004 hit single Jaga Jaga, which still echoes many of the issues Nigeria faces as a nation today. He has paid tribute to Fela on several occasions in his career and this is evident in his music style and his inclination for social activism. In 2013, Eedris featured Femi Kuti on his tribute song to Fela titled after the legend. The Remedies, the now-defunct group which he was a member of, sampled Fela’s music in their debut song Judile.