But we want to hear some music. What is so special musically about Fela is that he invented a new kind of music: afrobeat. Fela got turned on to James Brown and decided to make funk music with African rhythms, but he took it even further by writing 10, 20 or even 40 minute songs that kept to the same groove and, amazingly, never got boring.
He sings/chants/rants mostly in pidgin English, with topics ranging from the super political (Zombie - a metaphor for the police) to proper personal hygiene.
He even goes further than the most misogynistic rapper with songs like Lady and Gentleman, in which he celebrates the inequality of men and women while justifying it in a culture context. Sensitive feminists, get ready to be offended, but sensitive feminist liberals, get ready to be confused, because Fela is as multicultural as you can get.
He put out a lot of music. That said, some of my favorite albums are Before I Jump Like Monkey Give Me Banana (just the name alone says it all) and Zombie. However, as much as I hate to say it, probably the best introduction to Fela is “The Best Best of Fela Kuti.”