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Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

Fela Kuti

The Best of the Black President 2 (Knitting Factory Works)

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Bandleader Fela Kuti was a political activist in Nigeria, and his views were popular throughout Africa, but he would have found few hearers without his music. The two-disc Black President collection culls from some of his best recordings from the 1970s through the '90s. Only the dead could keep their bodies from moving. If Fela sometimes fell short as a political commentator (he supported Idi Amin), he never missed a beat rhythmically, fusing the incessant funk machinery of James Brown with the polyrhythmic drive of West Africa. His lyrics, whether in Yoruba or hit-and-miss English, work as angry rhythmic sounds and are of a piece with the propulsive music.