Video

Okayafrica TV: Questlove On Fela Kuti [Extended Interview]

Watch Questlove's full insights about Fela Kuti that didn't make it into "Finding Fela."


If you caught Finding Fela on the big screen you'll remember seeing Questlove's insights on Fela Kuti's message and the uncompromising political stance behind his work. Though limited to a short clip in the feature film, we've unearthed full footage of the interview which has Quest telling the stories of how he came across Fela's music in Santigold's jeep, the boldness of the afrobeat legend's compositions, and how he got a morning phone call from Jay Z after an early showing of the Fela! musical. "He clearly had the ear and the adoration of the people," Quest states. "To use this time & time again, and to get thrown in jail every time a single comes out. I mean, I have 16 records and can't imagine that I might have to go to jail for every time my album comes out. Not many people are willing to suffer for their craft." Finding Fela is currently showing in 30-plus theaters across North America. Watch the Okayafrica TV exclusive of Questlove's extended interview from the film below.

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

Finding Fela North American Theatrical Dates

New York, NY, IFC Center (August 1-14)

Rockland, ME, Strand Theatre (August 1-5)

Denver, CO, Landmark Chez Artiste (August 8-14)

Washington, DC, Landmark E Street Cinema (August 8-21)

New York, NY, Mist (August 8-19)

Vineyard Haven, MA, Martha's Vineyard Film Society (August 8-10 & August 15-17 ONLY)

Santa Fe, NM, The Screen (August 8-14)

New York, NY, Quad Cinema (August 15-21)

Berkeley, CA, Landmark Shattuck Cinemas (August 15-21)

Los Angeles, CA, Landmark Nuart Theatre (August 15-21)

San Diego, CA, Landmark Ken Cinema (August 15-21)

San Francisco, CA, Landmark Opera Plaza Cinema (August 15-21)

Atlanta, GA, Landmark Midtown Art Cinema (August 15-21)

Boston, MA, Landmark Kendall Square Cinema (August 15-21)

Philadelphia, PA, Landmark Ritz at the Bourse (August 15-21)

Nashville, TN, Belcourt Theatre (August 15-21)

Honolulu, HI, Honolulu Museum of Art (August 15-17, 19, & 21 ONLY)

Brunswick, ME, Frontier Cafe (August 19-24)

Houston, TX, 14 Pews (August 21 Tugg Screening)

Minneapolis, MN, Landmark Lagoon Cinema (August 22-28)

Albuquerque, NM, Guild Cinema (August 22-25)

Columbus, OH, Gateway Film Center (August 22-28)

Oklahoma City, OK, Oklahoma City Museum of Art (August 29-30)

Houston, TX, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (August 29-31)

Lambertville, NJ, Acme Screening Room (August 29-31)

Seattle, WA, Landmark Varsity Theatre (August 29 - September 4)

Portland, ME, Space Gallery (September 2)

Boulder, CO, Boedecker Theater in the Dairy Center for the Arts (September 3-6)

Hamilton, NY, Hamilton Movie Theater (September 10-14)

Chicago, IL, Music Box Theatre (September 12-18)

Nashville, TN, Belcourt Theatre (September 19-25)

Lowell, MA, Luna Theater at Mill 5 (September 25)

Tempe, AZ, Valley Art Theatre (October 10-16)

Memphis, TN, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (October 23)

Columbia, SC, Nichelodeon Theatre (February 9, 2015)

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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