Exploring Diddy's Obsession With Fela Kuti

Diddy's been posting about his love for Fela all over the internet.

Great men are obsessed with many things; Their money, the power that comes with it, the endless options they possess to alter and improve their human experience, and above all the feeling of invincibility that wealth and power provides.

But they are also obsessed with one more thing, which interests them more than anything else: Other great men. Great men follow each other, congregate in each other's presence, learn from themselves, make each other their business, and above all, consume their products. The same way Diddy is obsessed with Fela's music.

Diddy loves Fela Anikulakpo Kuti. The pioneer of the afrobeat genre, Fela is regarded as the father of modern Nigerian music, due to elements of his art constituting easy raw materials for today's generation of musicians. He was famous for his political activism during the country's era of military dictatorships, and his the expansive themes of his music preached for black pride, black emancipation, and most importantly black excellence.

Diddy is black excellence. A leading member of the Black community, Diddy has spent decades in the music industry, crafting hit records, raising and nurturing stars, improving the sound, and winning at business. According to Forbes, he is worth over $820 million, with his lucrative deal in Diageo's Ciroc, as well as huge stakes in TV network Revolt, and alkaline water brand, Aquahydrate and tequila DeLeon. His work has had him win numerous awards, and he's pushed the culture to millions of people around the world. That's why it matters that such a man would fall in love with Fela Kuti.

The evidence for this is all over the internet. An engaging clip shows him in an exotic location with French Montana, turning up to Fela's "Let's Start." In another video, he joins forces with Joe Budden to rock to "Fear not man," a record released in 1976, during the height of Fela's legendary music career. Also, recall March 2018, where a viral clip hit the internet of Diddy and Naomi Campbell, looking dapper before the 2018 Oscars, pose for photos, while Fela's music provides good vibes and energy.

It's a beautiful site to see for two major reasons. The musical genre afrobeat originated in the 1960s and 1970s as a blend of traditional Yoruba music with jazz, West African highlife and funk. The direction of Fela's music didn't come from a deep understanding of Nigeria. The flames of activism were lit by Sandra Smith Isadore, a woman he fell in love with in the US, during his search for artistic direction as a young creative seeking opportunities for expression. She introduced him to black struggle and guided him as he studied for purpose in his life and art.

During the course of their relationship, Fela was introduced to a number of political and musical viewpoints by Isadore, and those ideas profoundly influenced his musical approach and mission.. Fela became familiar with the political ideas and rhetoric of African-American political and cultural figures such as the Black Panthers, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmicheal), Angela David, Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, Jessie Jackson, and Malcom X.

"It's crazy; in the States people think the black power movement drew inspiration from Africa. All these Americans come over here looking for awareness. They don't realize they're the one who've got it over there. Why, we were even ashamed to go around in national dress until we saw pictures of blacks wearing dashikis on 125th street," Fela is quoted by Michael Veal, in his book 'Fela: The Life and Times of a Musical Icon.'

So technically, Fela found his true purpose in the USA. He simply returned home to execute, and met oppressive rule by black dictators on black people in his country. Combating that became his primary objective, and that activism still stands as his proud legacy.

Interestingly, many years after his passing, his music continues to inspire many after him. Diddy, celebrates with it at key moments, presumably not solely because of the musical quality, but also due to what the sound represents; freedom, equality, growth, emancipation, and the thriving of black people in all spheres of existence, and wherever they may journey in life.

Joey Akan is an award-winning writer, journalist, critic and podcaster based in Lagos, Nigeria. Follow him on Twitter.

Photos by David Pattinson.

First Look: This New Collection from Art Comes First Is Peak Black Yeehaw Aesthetic

The design and brand consultant duo previews the SS20 collection displayed during their residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris.

Following their wavy Surf Afrika collection, Art Comes First (ACF) shares with us a preview of their SS20 collection that is all things Black Yeehaw Aesthetic.

Dubbed El Charro Negro, the collection features neutral colors and an array of textures—from leather, embroidery, fringed denim and ponchos, to vests, suede jackets and straight flyness.

Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of ACF are known as the "Travelling Tailors" where their ventures around the world influence their designs. This time the nomads, who hail from the West Indies, Ghana and Angola respectively, have landed in Paris.

Earlier this month, ACF curated a week-long event-filled residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris that encapsulates their ethos of taking cultural influence from around the world and only staying still long enough to create. There, Lambert and Maidoh presented an installation, live musical performances and DJ sets, a film screening and a pop-up shop leading up to Fashion Week. The residency also showcased the duo's latest collaboration with London mainstay Fred Perry.

El Charro Negro will still be showcased in Paris at another location from June 18 to 23. Keep up with ACF on Instagram to stay tuned for details.

Check out our favorite images from the collection below.

Keep reading... Show less

Nonso Amadi & Kwesi Arthur's 'Comfortable' Will Get You In Weekend Mode

Watch the trippy new music video for this link-up from the buzzing Nigerian and Ghanaian artists.

Nonso Amadi is one of the standout acts from a young wave of Nigerian musicians blending afro-fusion with RnB and much more. He's now dropping the brand new single "Comfortable," an addictive self-produced track that sees him linking up with bubbling Ghanaian act Kwesi Arthur, which we're premiering below today.

"Comfortable" is built on woozy synth keys and sparse beat work, all spearheaded by Nonso Amadi's vocals about wanting freedom in a relationship.

"The song is inspired by experiences with having a girl over and not wanting them to get too comfortable by staying too long with you," says Nonso Amadi. "I thought it'll be interesting to create a song around this 'cos it's not a perspective were used to hearing from guys very often."

Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via YouTube.

Maleek Berry Makes a Statement with His First Track of the Year, 'Flashy'

And the music video follows suit.

After months of anticipation, Maleek Berry finally dropped his first track of the year, "Flashy."

The Nigerian crooner-producer surely makes a statement on the track while flexing his rapping skills, as he chronicles how he leveled up to be flashy—and it's well-deserved. The video shows us a scene of a fly photo shoot that's underway, where Maleek is dripping in gold and fancy cars surrounded by stunning black women and his homies—Eugy, Tinie Tempah, Juls and more.

Watch the video, directed by Capone and Guise of Vissionaire Pictures, below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox