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Erykah Badu curates Fela Kuti box set

The limited edition vinyl only anthology will also feature seven Badu essays about Fela

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who died 20 years ago, would have been 79 on 15 October. To commemorate his birthday US label Knitting Factory has announced the fourth in its series of Kuti anthologies is a box set curated by Erykah Badu.

“I prefer things that come super-duper easy to me. Effortless creations are MY forte. That's how I feel about the music of Fela Kuti,” writes Badu. “IT’S SO GOOD that there is NO way he gave it any thought. With Fela, it seems to just have spilled right out of him. We instantly get the feeling that we are connected to those tones and vibrations. It is this breed of pure honesty that we are most attracted to, I think, because we get the feeling we are witnessing something... well, we should not. Largely, this is because we are automatically made part of a movement, manufactured as we watch. The maker and the watcher become one living, breathing organism.

“Fela Kuti is a fucking genius,” she declares. “Please listen to these tracks, preferably with a nice blunt… with a nice slow burn.”

Badu’s selections include “Coffin For Head Of State” (1980), “Yellow Fever” (1976), “No Agreement” (1977), “JJD (Johnny Just Drop)” (1977), “VIP” (1979), “Army Arrangement” (1984) and “Underground System” (1992).

Restored and remastered from Fela’s original recordings, Fela Kuti:Vinyl Box Set #4 will be released as a seven LP collection in a limited edition of 3000 copies. Badu has also penned seven essays for the set, which also includes seven in-depth commentaries written by Afrobeat historian Chris May, song lyrics and never before published photos of Fela Kuti, and a poster designed by Nigerian artist Lemi Ghariokwu, who was responsible for 26 of Kuti‘s previous album covers. The series’ previous curators were Questlove in 2010, Ginger Baker in 2012, and Brian Eno in 2014.

Fela Kuti:Vinyl Box Set #4 is released on 15 December by Knitting Factory Records. Pre-orders are available now.

You can watch part two of Badu's favourite Kuti track “Coffin For Head Of State” below: