Fela Kuti and his influential Afrobeat sound are frequently discussed on Twitter, even more so when considering the fame of current Nigerian stars like WizKid, Tems, Davido, and Burna Boy expanding the genre. On Twitter, the late Kuti’s name has been tossed around yet again while fans discuss his impact on Nigeria and the world beyond but not without some contention.
A quick look at the Fela Kuti trending topic on Twitter features one user, The Beat 99.9 FM’s Osi Suave, giving younger listeners a history lesson on how big of an artist Kuti was. It has been something of a foot race of sorts as WizKid is clearly one of the African nation’s biggest stars and has crossed over to a global audience on the heels of his massive “Essence” single featuring Tems.
As Osi Suave points out, younger fans seem to think Kuti’s fame was connected to his activism and not his music, an easy thing to assume since “The Black President” was vocal in his defiance of the Nigerian government by way of his jazz-tinged opuses.
“It’s funny because people think Fela became fela because of activism lmao. Stevie Wonder was in Nigeria for Festac 77. He skipped the Grammy where he won 4 grammys that year and had a satellite link to accept his awards from lagos. Because man’s was Jamming with Fela,” Osi Suave shared in one tweet.
It appears that Osi Suave has Twitter in an uproar because he gave his opinion that Kuti is the greatest Nigerian musician in the past 50 years, which sparked a flurry of responses you can see all over his feed.
Osi Suave tweeted, “When I say Fela is the greatest musician in the last 50 years in Nigeria. I’m not talking about Grammy wins and the likes. I’m talking about the impact he f*cking made. For Jayz to say, ‘Bumping Fela on the Puma Jet like we from Lagos,’ do you know how much of an icon Fela is?”
It could be a thing of youth or the fact that WizKid and his contemporaries have taken Afrobeat and have moved into the wider “Afrobeats” style that appeals to broader audiences. But that shouldn’t cause tension between fans of the newer artists or the many legacy acts that came before them.
Below is a thread from Suave explaining his position on Fela Kuti and detailing his musical journey. Keep scrolling to see some of the pushback and discussion.
An older tweet, but relevant.