News

Kendrick Lamar Samples Fela Kuti In 'To Pimp A Butterfly'

"Mortal Man," the closing on Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly,' uses a sample from Fela Kuti's 1975 "I No Get Eye For Back."


As you've now heard, Kendrick Lamar surprise released his highly-anticipated follow-up to 2012's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City late on Sunday night. The 16-track To Pimp A Butterfly is a jazz and retro funk-indebted excursion that features production work from Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Pharrell, and Boi-1da alongside live instrumentation in the form of Robert Glasper's keys and Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington's saxophone & horns, among many others.

The full length's sprawling closing track "Mortal Man" initially sparked our interest because of its several Nelson Mandela mentions throughout its hook ("The ghost of Mandela, hope my flows they propel it") and verses ("You wanna love like Nelson, you wanna be like Nelson. You wanna walk in in his shoes but you peace-making seldom"). As a Rolling Stone article points out, "A 2014 trip to South Africa inspired Lamar to pen "Mortal Man," a song that finds the rapper name-checking Moses, Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr... [and] weav[ing] in samples from a 1994 Tupac interview with Swedish journalist Mats Nileskär on the show P3 Soul."

To Pimp A Butterfly's liner notes reveal that "Mortal Man" also samples Fela Kuti's 1975 "I No Get Eye for Back" off Alagbon Close. Kendrick's track uses a pitched-down drum pattern from Fela's original, as performed in a 1977 cover by South Carolina tenor saxophonist Houston Person. Stream Kendrick Lamar's "Mortal Man" on Spotify and check out both Fela Kuti and Houston Person's versions of "I No Get Eye For Back" below to spot the drum sample.

https://play.spotify.com/track/1WT11QmhZutciEv1NsHt1R

Visit Fela.net and the Regular Trademark store. Use discount code OKAYFELA for 15% off all orders!

Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

ProVerb’s Memoir Is A Huge Slap In The Face To South African Hip-Hop

In his memoir, one of South Africa's revered lyricists ProVerb and his co-author compromise his rich story with trite motivational talk.

The Book of Proverb

ProVerb has had a strange relationship with the SA hip-hop scene. Albeit being one of the most gifted lyricists the country has ever seen, he has grown to flow less and hustle more. Despite this, his name still comes up when the greatest (South) African rappers of all time are mentioned. MTV Base placed him as the 7th in their list of the greatest SA MCs of all time in 2018 for example.

The rapper-turned-media personality dedicates a paragraph of his memoir, The Book of Proverb, to explaining his complicated relationship with hip-hop. "Although I built my brand as a hip-hop artist, I never enjoyed full support or success from it," he writes. "Music is and always will remain a pass ion, but it stopped being viable when it stopped making business sense to me. If I was given more support, I might continue, but for now, I'll focus on my other hustles."

On the cover of the book which was released towards the end of 2020 by Penguin, Verb is wearing a charcoal blazer and sporting a white ball cap, so one can be forgiven for getting into it expecting both sides of his story. This memoir, however, is too vague to be a worthy read if you aren't necessarily reading to get motivated but to be simply informed and inspired.

While a few of The Book of ProVerb's chapters touch on his rap career, most of the book is about ProVerb the man, personality and businessman. Not so much one of the country's finest lyricists. This omission is a huge slap in the face for his fans and SA hip-hop fans in general.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr Explores the Sweet Spot Between Nollywood & Hollywood

Winner of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, London-based Nigerian filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr speaks about his experimental film 'Lizard', what belonging looks like and the overlap between Hollywood and Nollywood.