The Shuffle: The Funkees' "Akula Owu Onyeara" is a classic from Nigeria's psychedelic rock era - The Native

The Shuffle: The Funkees’ “Akula Owu Onyeara” is a classic from Nigeria’s psychedelic rock era

Pop music’s need to be relatable invariably makes it an apt medium for documenting history. By reflecting the realities of the society during the military era, The Funkees’ “Akula Owu Onyeara” has grown to become one of the classics of the 70s. The blend of psychedelic rock performed in Igbo was released just after the civil war.

The Funkees focused on weaving a groove to uplift listeners from the blues and troubles of the post war. Fusing traditional elements and psychedelic funk harmonies made the sound a variant of Rock n Roll, a fad created by local artists awkwardly aping foreign artists and bands like James Brown and The Beatles. On “Akula Owu Onyeara” first released in 1973, their ability to simulate the sense of confusion at the aftermath of the violence of the war despite being centrifugal to track’s muse, paints a vivid imagery of the time.

Taking from rock music’s provocative, intense, and unapologetic story crafting, The Funkees’ “Akula Owu Onyeara” describes the pervasive behaviours of lunatics in their Igbo dialect. Lead singer, Bill Ike calls out violent people for being crazy, “Onye Ara”. He goes on to mock their uncivilized actions (cold baths in cold seasons, refusing clothes and walking around naked), backed by smooth, psychedelic guitar licks, catchy percussion harmonies and relentless drums. Given the socio-political atmosphere of the time, it almost comes off as a guiding advice when he pleads with crazy people not to fight with broken bottles.

It’s nifty and delightful and thanks to excellent vocal work, packs a punch to boot.

Listen to “Akula Owu Onyeara” below.

Featured Image Credits: Instagram/polyester.specter

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  • theoeke

    Very interesting review, but there’s a little clarification that might require further explanation. I thought Billy Iyke was the keyboardist who delivered those wicked organic riffs starting with the intro, that finally blossomed into a fever pitch with a stretch of melancholic solo in the middle of the track “Onye Ara?” Mohammed Ahidjo was the lead vocals for the Funkees, and I believe he sang the song and not Billy Iyke.