One Day Go Be One Day: Exploring Fela Kuti’s spiritual roots
To accompany the Spring/Summer 2019 Carhartt WIP capsule collection, which pays tribute to legendary Nigerian musician and political agitator Fela Anikulapo Kuti, we have once again collaborated with Dazed and NTS Radio.
The short film, titled One Day Go Be One Day, sees artist and filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. travel to the Nigerian capital of Lagos together with London rapper Obongjayar. The result is the experimental short, which takes cues from Fela Kuti’s spiritual roots. Read the full Dazed article here and check the film out below.
To escort the launch, we asked NTS founder Femi Adeyemi to prepare us a Fela Kuti Carhartt WIP Radio show and also spoke to some of our friends and collaborators within the world of music, including the film’s leading figure, Obongjayar, Ruby Savage of Brownswood Recordings, British trumpet player Sheila Maurice-Grey, who is part of the young, London-based Afrobeat 8-Piece band Kokoroko, contemporary Jazz musician Henry Wu, a.k.a. Kamaal Williams, and one of Germany’s finest underground MCs, Retrogott.
We asked them to sum up what the work of Fela Kuti meant to them, and how his legacy has inspired their own work.
Do you have a favorite Fela Kuti track?
Obongjayar: Beast of No Nation is my favorite Fela tune. For one that was my first encounter with Fela‘s music and also my earliest memory of any music. As I grew older and rediscovered his work, that song has always found me. It's bravery, it's gravity."
Has Fela Kuti inspired your own work?
Ruby Savage: Fela showed me that being of African descent is powerful. He made me feel confident about my blackness and inspired me to speak truthfully always. Also, that there is no right or wrong, good or bad – screw the rules basically.
Sheila Maurice-Grey: 100%. Even before I started Kokoroko I was deeply into Fela and listened to his music. All my bandmates are into him too. I did my musical schooling with him, and I must say the whole contemporary UK jazz scene is influenced by his work
Fela Kuti was famed for creating music imbued with the spirit of protest. What should we be protesting in 2019?
Henry Wu: Liberating our minds from consumerist society and being grateful for what we have and not what he haven't.
Retrogott: We should probably be protesting against the same things that Fela protested against: corruption, repression, symbolic and cultural violence, racism. Many artists don’t want to speak about everyday or historically political topics – maybe because it’s not of aesthetic value to them. Fela challenged that with his L’art pour L’art approach to music and culture and showed us that everything is political.