The video for Wyclef's "Fela Kuti" is the Fela we deserve, not the one we need - The Native

The video for Wyclef’s “Fela Kuti” is not the depiction of Fela we need

The 70’s in Nigeria, the decade that gave us FESTAC, the Naira currency, and apparently a lot of funk music. For some, this meant synth-pop and childhood-defining adventure movies. For others, a brutish era of violent and dictatorial military rule against the backdrop of budding youth culture. The two are reflected in Fela Kuti’s jazz and highlife fused music that has grown to become a global phenomena with his activism providing his lyrical inspiration. Unfortunately it allowed him get away with some of the more misogynist lyrics and outlandish visuals.

Released back in July, Wyclef’s “Fela Kuti” off his Carnival III album samples as well as references Fela’s dance moves for the dancehall number. But given the similar reference to Prince, the “Fela Kuti” title for the pre-released single feels like a PR stunt to help score global points to improve the album’s appeal. The recently released video does very little to debunk this premise with the caribbean and exotic motif of the video.

The royal setting showing Wyclef wearing a suit and crown tributes Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” a lot more than it does anything from Fela. The carnival dressed models stand at a sharp contrast to Fela’s preference for tribal clothes on his dancers. However, Wyclef surrounding himself with hot models brings to mind Fela’s knack for sexualizing women in his lyrics and visuals, but that’s pretty much all the Fela you get from a song titled after him.

Watch Wyclef Jean’s video for “Fela Kuti” below.

Featured Image Credits: YouTube/wyclef/VEVO


You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu


ICYMI: Check out inspirations for Wyclef’s “Fela Kuti”

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