We embrace Fela’s “Opposite People” as our Afrobeat song for kids. Known as “The Black President,” Fela Anikulapo Kuti began his career in the early ’60s playing music in clubs around West Africa and the UK. In the late ’60s, Fela encountered the American Black Power movement and American funk, both in the body of James Brown. Fela fused highlife and Brown’s hard-living funk to create Afrobeat, and he fused Pan-Africanism and Black Power with his music to become one of the most powerful musicians of all time. Afrobeat’s rhythms are dense and driving, with multiple different rhythms layering upon one another at once to provide both depth and constant motion. In class we dance to the groove from “Opposite People,”the original of which features lyrics in Fela’s Nigerian pidgin that focus on the growing class differentials in Nigerian society and how “opposite people” can defy the upper classes.
Working doubletime as our Afrobeat song for kids, “Opposite People” contains an “interpolation” of the equally awesome Fela song, “Egbe Mi O”. (The “la la la la la la” vocal line comes from “Egbe Mi O.”)