Baba Olatunji- Drums of Passion (1959):
Baba Olatunji’s Drums of Passion album is a completely immersive and rhythmic expression of Yoruba culture. From the chants, to the traditional drums and various instruments, this album is filled with beautiful songs that feature rich beats, and wonderful backing vocals.
This album is of huge historic influence, being an album that opened the doors of traditional African music to the mainstream, of the West. This album was extremely popular, selling over five million copies worldwide.
The album focuses heavily on the drums, as its name implies, with rich drumming that is intoxicating, hypnotic and takes you to a different dimension, with lovely female backup singers, who provide sensational vocal additions.
Nigeria 70s The Definitive Story of Lagos Funk (2001):
This album is a compilation of various songs, from various funk artists in Nigeria in the 70s. The album highlights the fact that funk was a very influential sound in Nigeria, as a lot of legendary artists in Nigeria, infused various elements of the genre in their music.
The album is indeed very funky, while drawing inspiration from their American contemporaries, the artists on this album also add a Nigerian twist to the sound. The album itself reflects Nigeria’s diversity, as artists on this album sing in a variety of languages, from English, to Yoruba, and Hausa.
This album is for those who are fans of funk and disco, the album can also be played in a party setting, because it is quite groovy and makes you want to get down and boogie.
The album consists of two discs of nonstop funk, so be sure to give it a listen and get down on it!
King Sunny Ade-Juju Music (1982):
A very Iconic album, which features one of King Sunny Ade’s most well-known songs Ja Funmi. This album blends in a very constructive manner, traditional African music, with more western sounds to give it a very unique sound, which made King Sunny Ade stand out not just in Nigeria, but across the globe.
Having peaked at #111 on Billboard’s “Pop Albums” chart, this is Sunny Ade’s very first album and helped propel his career, as well as introducing a new generation of listeners to African sounds.
The albums slow pace, while being uncharacteristic with African music (as it is traditionally fast paced), it still maintains a very hypnotic vibe, and entices the listener to move their body. This album was instrumental in paving the way for later generations of Nigerian musicians, to build upon the sound created by King Sunny Ade.
The Best of The Black President- Fela Kuti (1999):
Arguable the most influential Nigerian artiste of all time, the trailblazer, pioneer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s “The Best of the Black President” is a must to listen to. It would be difficult to imagine Nigerian music without Fela. Fela’s music is rhythmically enchanting, and comprises of a fusion of Highlife, Juju music, Funk and Jazz.
This album is a compilation of Fela’s greatest hits such as “Lady”, “Shakara” and “Zombie” to name a few. Fela’s utilizes his charisma and infections beats, to discuss a variety of issues, ranging from oppression in Nigeria, to colonialism and poverty in Africa.
While Fela’s songs are longer than most songs released today, they strike a perfect balance between thought provoking, and feel good music.
It is important for us to explore our history in music, to have a greater appreciation for our legends, and understand how our music developed to where it is now. In the words of Baba Olatunji:
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift that’s why we call it the present.”