Friday, February 01, 2008


In response to Quinapalus' post on political art, here's my first post on Fela Kuti.

"[Zombie] ignited the nation to follow Fela's lead and antagonize the military zombies that had the population by the throat. Fela is direct and humorous in his attack as he barks out commands to the soldiers like: "Attention! Double up! Fall In! Fall out! Fall down! Get ready!" Meanwhile, his choir responds with "Zombie!" in between each statement. Since the groove was so absolutely contagious, it took the nation by storm: People in the street would put on a blank stare and walk with hands affront proclaiming "Zombie!" whenever they would see soldiers. If "Zombie" caught the attention of the populous it also caught the attention of the authority figures -- this would cause devastating personal and professional effects as the Nigerian government came down on him with absolute brute force not long after the release of this record."
- All Music Guide

1 comment:

Quinapalus said...

This is a really interesting example, Tex. It certainly is an infectious beat, but I think it also suffers from the same shortcomings as most expressly political art: namely, that over this infectious beat he's essentially just shouting an anti-government slogan. And I don't want to diminish the legitimacy or power of that, as I'm sure in the time and place of this song that slogan served a vitally important need. But still, listening to it in my own time and place, I find that the three dimensional humanity which defines most art that I enjoy is sacrificed here to serve the function of that slogan. I don't want to get into the area of defining what makes something truly "art" (which I always find to be a reductive and boring conversation) but songs like this one, while they might be empowering in their original context, tend to sound flat and unilluminating to me when I listen to them on my own.