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Various Artists: Black Man’s Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti

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Fela Kuti died of AIDS in 1997. Before that he was Nigeria’s most famous musician, pioneering Afro-beat — a combination of jazz, funk and the long-popular African genre highlife. He became closely associated with left-wing causes later in life, and has captivated popular rock and rap artists as diverse as Ginger Baker and Pete Rock. Black Man’s Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti is a new compilation featuring artists who both inspired, and were inspired by, Kuti. Endorsed by his estate, it’s an unusual and highly rewarding compilation that showcases the Afro-beat evolution. Contemporaries such as Segun Bucknor and Dan Satch & His Atomic 8 Dance Band are included along with ’90s tracks from such acts as Daktaris, and Karl Hector and the Malcouns. Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes’ long medley is the album’s centerpiece and highlight, but the whole work serves as a rollicking history in song. (Now-Again) 4 stars out of 5

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