UPR!SE is a blog dedicated to The Shrine's Patron Saint and inspiration, Fela Anikulpo Kuti.

The blog focuses on music, fashion, art, design, politics and culture. It is a celebration of trailblazing souls who rise up without compromise.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010



Yes, Fela is everywhere these days, you might even say it's a Fela revival, or a Fela-olution. But historically speaking, espesh in the hip-hop world, worshipping Fela is nothing new. Check out this mixtape from NY based producer and DJ Dhundee. Afrotreats traces some of hip-hop's best tracks that sampled Fela over the years, from Jay-Z to Mos Def and many more.


( Intro taken from Fela's "Music Is The Weapon" )
1. I Will Not Appologize (Featuring Porn & Dice Raw) - The Roots
2. Smithzonian Institute Of Rhyme - Blackalicious
3. Colonial Mentality - Fela Kuti
4. Whatcha Gon' Do F. Timbaland - Missy Elliot
5. Roc Boys (Mike Love's Nigerian Gangster remix ft. Fela Kuti) - Jay-Z
6. Water No Get Enemy - D'Angelo, Femi Kuti & Macy Gray Feat. Roy Hargrove, Nile Rodgers
7. This Is Sad - Fela Ransome Kuti & Nigeria 70
8. Fela - Lukid
9. By Your Side (Cottonbelly's Fola Mix) [Edit] - Sade
10. No Agreement - Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, Positive Black Soul & Archi
11. Heat - Common
12. Let's Start (Fela Kuti Tribute) - J.Period & K'NAAN
13. Fear Not of Man - Fela Kuti
14. Fear Not of Man - Mos Def
15. Upside Down - Fela Kuti
16. Upside Down - The Daktaris
17. Tears + Sorrow - Common, Me'Shell Ndeg�Ocello & Djelimady Tounkara
18. Shuffering And Shmiling - Fela Kuti
19. Pass That Dutch (PTA MIX) - Missy Elliot
20. MAW Expensive (A Tribute To Fela) - Masters At Work Feat. Wunmi
21. Zombie, Pt. 2 - Roy Hargrove & Money Mark Nile Rodgers
( outro taken from Fela's "Music Is The Weapon" )

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FELABRATION!: A Celebration of the Legacy of Fela Kuti

Wednesday August 4
10pm - 2am - No Cover
The Shrine - 2109 South Wabash Avenue - Chicago, IL 60616-1781 - (312) 753-5700 - www.theshrinechicago.com

DJs: Tone B Nimble & King Scratch (aka Joe Bryl) - Hosts FM Supreme & Genevieve Honorico

To celebrate the legacy and influence of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, pioneer of Afrobeat and political maverick, The Shrine (2109 S. Wabash) is hosting FELABRATION! on Wednesday, August 4 to commemorate his death on August 2, 1997. Born in Nigeria in 1938, Fela went to London in 1958 to study medicine, but instead shifted his attention toward music; forming the band Koola Lobitos which played a fusion of jazz and highlife. Returning to Nigeria and playing under the direction of Victor Olaiya and his All Stars, Fela went to Ghana where he developed his ideas on Afrobeat further. He then continued his travels to the U.S. where his political awakening was broadened by the Black Power Movement. Renaming his band Nigeria '70, he recorded in L.A. in 1969 and returned to Nigeria to combine his developing Afrobeat style with political and social ideals based on Pan-Africanism, human rights and socialism. Fela set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and then the Afrika Shrine (the name where The Shrine derives), where he performed and honed his style.

His music with its harsh critiques on the Nigerian government and military set off a vicious attack on his commune, the Kalakuta Republic. Fela was severely beaten, his elderly mother was thrown from a window, the commune was burned down to the ground, his studio destroyed and all master tapes where lost. Fela responded by delivering his mother's coffin to the Dodan Barracks in Lagos and recorded two songs, "Coffin for Head of State" and "Unknown Soldier" telling the story worldwide. He formed his own political party, which he called Movement of the People, put himself up for election for the Presidency (which was refused) and continued recording and touring. His music continued developing with its fusion of interlocking melodies, a seemingly endless groove ladened with a driving horn section, a call and response chorus that drives both African rhythms and American spirituals. Fela's showmanship, like that of James Brown, seemed energized beyond normal boundaries and often performed songs live that lasted at least 45 minutes each.

Sadly, Fela passed away over a decade ago due to AIDS which still devastates much of Africa. His funeral at the Shrine was attended by over a million visitors. However, since his death, the legacy of Fela has grown astronomically with re-releases of his immense catalogue, the production of the Broadway Tony Award winning musical Fela!, numerous Fela-related art shows and a new generation of Afrobeat bands who continue expanding the sound of Afrobeat (e.g. Antibalas, Nomo, and Chicago Afrobeat Orchestra).

To pay proper tribute to Fela, The Shrine will host a special FELABRATION! that will cover his musical career, artists who have worked collaboratively with him (Roy Ayers, Ginger Baker, Tony Allen) and all those who presently carry his musical message further. DJs are Tone B Nimble & King Scratch (aka Joe Bryl) who head the weekly UPR!SE weekly event. There is no cover for the event.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso in London

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso in Trafalgar Square in 1969


In 1969, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were exiled by their country's military dictatorship. Their years in London influenced Brazilian – and British – music for ever

It's August 1970 and there are 600,000 people in a field in the Isle of Wight watching the biggest music festival that has ever been held. They will, over the course of the five-day event, witness performances from the Who, the Doors, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, and the last show by Jimi Hendrix. But headlining the second day are two anonymous Brazilians, joined by a troupe of naked dancers draped in red plastic. The pair start chanting in Portuguese, accompanied by African drums and jazz flute. Then they plug in their guitars and play a crazed set mixing psychedelic rock, funk and samba.

The two men are Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. It will be some time before they are filling arenas around the world or, in Gil's case, serving as a minister in the Brazilian government. In the summer of 1970 they are merely exotic fixtures on London's underground scene, jamming with Hawkwind and hanging out in art galleries, hippy communes and music festivals.

"I was astonished to discover how big these guys were," says Nik Turner from Hawkwind. "They seemed so humble, so generous, so eager to jam with anyone."

Only two years earlier, Veloso and Gil had been two of Brazil's biggest pop stars, leading lights in the slyly subversive Brazilian psychedelic rock scene Tropicália. That was until the military dictatorship decided they were a threat. In December 1968 they were arrested in São Paulo. They had their heads shaved, spent two months in prison and a further four months under house arrest.

"The military wanted us to leave the country," says Veloso. "They let us play a concert to raise money for a plane ticket." As the rest of the world watched the moon landings on 21 July 1969, Veloso and Gil were preparing to leave Brazil. They wouldn't return for another three years.

"Our manager went to Europe ahead of us to check where we would live," says Gil. "Lisbon and Madrid were out of the question as Portugal and Spain were under a heavy dictatorship. Paris had a boring musical ambience. London was the best place for a musician to be."

Gil and Veloso, their manager, and their respective wives, ended up living in a house at 16 Redesdale Street, Chelsea, London, a place visiting Brazilian friends would call "the Sixteen Chapel". Together they frequented museums, art galleries and football matches, and learned to love Monty Python's Flying Circus – Veloso says its surrealism influenced some of his more experimental music.

Veloso was depressed and homesick throughout his first year in London, while Gil was rather more upbeat. "We arrived the week the Beatles released Abbey Road, we saw the Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse, we jammed with great musicians, we met great people, we heard reggae for the first time," he says. "The fact you could walk up to a policeman and ask directions – in Brazil that just doesn't happen!"

While in prison Gil had adopted a macrobiotic diet and started meditating and investigating eastern mysticism. He arrived on a London hippy scene that shared his new interests, and quickly struck up relationships with many of the capital's key countercultural figures, including the anarchic journalist and singer Mick Farren, and Turner and Thomas Crimble of Hawkwind.

Through Crimble, Gil got involved with a group of well-to-do bohemians who were setting up what would become the first proper Glastonbury festival. "The first time I visited the Worthy Farm site in the autumn of 1970, Gil was there with [Glastonbury festival co-founders] Arabella Churchill, Andrew Kerr and Thomas Crimble," says Bill Harkin, who designed Glastonbury's original pyramid stage. "They all spent months in Michael Eavis's farmhouse, smoking dope and discussing ways of making a free festival work. There were ideas about unifying spiritualism, the environment, art and music.

"One of the models was the Brazilian carnival, a perfect example of a free, almost spontaneous, multidisciplinary arts festival. I remember having conversations with Gil about alternative medicine, whirling dervishes, music from Africa and India and Latin America, and music's power as a healing force. He was buzzing with ideas, and was crucial to the way the festival developed."

Gil invited Veloso along to some of those early Glastonbury meetings – Harkin remembers Veloso suggesting that the main stage be shaped like a giant wigwam. "Everyone liked his tipi idea," says Harkin. "It very nearly eclipsed my pyramid. If things were different, 40 years on, we could be watching the wigwam stage!" Gil stayed on to perform at that festival, appearing briefly in Nic Roeg's Glastonbury Fayre movie.

Veloso also made music in exile, but his tended to be more introverted. He jokingly describes his 1971 album, London London, as "a document of depression". There are songs such as Little More Blue, with the lyric, "One day I had to leave my country, calm beach and palm beach"; and the title track, with the bittersweet lament "green grass, blue eyes, grey sky, God bless".

"I had always admired British rock music," he says, "what I call 'neo-rock'. In London I got to see it close up: Led Zeppelin, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pink Floyd, the Who, the Incredible String Band, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, the Rolling Stones. I learned that great rock was not about volume and wildness, but about precision and spareness.

"I also learned about authenticity. I was initially reluctant to play guitar on my own records, and would delegate that to more skilled musicians. But producers convinced me that the frailties of my guitar style were part of the charm of the song. That was very liberating." Veloso still has a keen interest in British alternative rock, his 2006 album, Cê, borrowing from experimental post-punk.

Gil's debts to his exile are more complex. His first London album, Gilberto Gil (Nêga), has him playing solo, acoustic versions of songs by Steve Winwood, the Beatles and Hendrix, but reggae became the most enduring legacy of his spell in England. "We were lucky to be in Notting Hill just as West Indian culture – Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Burning Spear – was exploding," he says. "I was also fascinated by the whole Rasta cultural thing. It helped me to identify what was African about Brazilian culture." Gil would later take these ideas back to Brazil, engaging with black-Brazilian politics and pioneering some of the first samba-reggae hybrids.

Both look back with fondness about their time in exile. "I never wanted to live outside Brazil," says Gil. "But London is one of the most interesting cities in the world, and I am lucky to have lived there." "It is only now that I can say that I like the music I recorded there," says Veloso. "The things we learned in exile made us more creative musicians. It also made us stronger people."



"Happy new year first off all." Uh, yeah. Jimi Hendrix LIVE! New Year's Eve 1969-1970 @ The Fillmore East, NYC. Easily one of the best live records ever, the band just plain rips; essentially challenging/defining a generation of rock and inspiring many more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Africa Fashion Week 2010

They weren't just playing soccer in South Africa. African Fashion Week went down June 30th through July 3rd, with more than 27 designers from across the continent:

Designers: Xuly Bet, Sakina Msa, Ituen Basi, Deola Sagoe, Soucha, Heni, Noir, Qumi Bespoke, David Tlale, Koketso Chiepe, Christie Brown,Laquan Smith, Bunmi Koko, Fabiani, Marianne Fassler, Errol Arendz, Abigail Betz, Mataano, Gloria Wavamunno, Suzaan Heyns, Sandra Muendane, Stoned Cherrie, Boudoir D’huitres, Thula Sindi, Carducci Man and Carducci Woman, Kluk Cgdt

Great pictorial of African Fashion Week 2010 on UZURI


FAVELA ON BLAST! The Doc + A True Story of the Filming

DJ Diplo's documentary about Baile Funk from Rio de Janeiro is finally coming to theaters! (CHECK THE TRAILER BELOW.) I have a close connection to this project, as I was at the filming of one of the parties in Santa Tereza at Morro Das Prazeres (Pleasure Hill). A friend of mine was working with DJ Sany Pitbull and invited us to the party.

I lived in Rio for seven years, and had been all over the city, but going up into the favelas (slums or ghettos, I prefer community) can be pretty aggro to say the least. The makeshift housing is unlike anything in the U.S. and the threat of violence is real due to drug trafficking, but if you are invited or accompanied by someone from the community you are relatively secure. Security is an issue in Rio, no doubt, but it's an issue in Chicago, too. Any big city, unfortunately.

After leaving our car at the base of the hill, we walked up a wooden stairway that lead up to the the area of the community where the party was being held. On the way up, I noticed a shirtless guy with a pistol tucked into his pants. I didn't say anything as a couple of the girls with us were already pretty spooked. Once we got to the top, we entered a cement courtyard/soccer field where the party was going off.

It was a bit of odd mix with people from the community and the film crew with their huge camera boom and equipment. Everyone was dancing, from little kids to senior citizens. Sany Pitbull is a beast and rocked the party well. A few MCs got up as well. One of the woman MCs brought some filthy flow - Uncle Luke might have blushed. That sh*t was priceless.

The girls mellowed out and danced for hours, though they were a little freaked out by the dudes on the edges of the party keeping watch with machine guns. I think they were taking extra care to ensure no BS was going to screw up the filming. Funny thing was, no one harassed any of the girls like what might happen at a regular bar or club in the city. Carioca (Rio) guys can be pretty aggressive. Hell, the girls, too!

At one point I went off to find a bathroom and on the way back ended up shooting the sh*t with one of the security guys. He couldn't get over the idea that some leprechaun looking motherf*cker was speaking Portuguese to him. Someone passed a joint and and he had to put the machine gun in his other hand when I passed it to him.

My girl (now wife) was freaking out when I came back. I was gone for like twenty minutes and she got a little worried. We left while the party was still poppin' around 4AM. On Blasted!!!!

Rio is hosting the World Cup in 2014 an the Olympics in 2016. What an amazing opportunity for the city/country to make some positive changes. I know Rio has a bad reputation, but a lot of it is unwarranted. (I've been help up at gunpoint in Chicago, never Rio.) My friends have told me that certain favelas have already gotten better, which is encouraging. I can't recommend going enough. The natural layout of the city is ridiculous. Afternoons in Ipanema... But don't forget to hit Via Show!




Was talking with a couple friends last night about what it must have been like for folks the first time they ever heard James Brown. People must have lost their minds... I remember the first time I listed to the James Brown's Funky People compilations in college. Man, those things used to destroy the dancers. Still do. Now I know James has millions (billions?) of fans worldwide, but we just sort of take it for granted. His music and influence are so much a part of our culture. But seriously, no James, no funk. No funk, no Hip Hop. Yeah, there was a time... BEFORE JB!!! Hard to believe.

Um, he could dance too. :)

Life After Death: An Analysis of the Persona that Was/Is Fela Anikulapo Kuti (Exhibition)

There is a brand new art exhibit now at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York City running from June 14 - August 10. Nice to see so much attention finally being given to this musical legend!

This exhibition seeks to pay tribute to one of the African Diaspora’s most influential living ancestors as well as critique the complexity of his persona. Life After Death: A Multi-Media Analysis of the Persona that Was/Is Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a visual homage to a musical genius and perhaps one of contemporary history’s most powerful protest artists.

Curated by: Shantrelle P. Lewis

Also including never before seen photography of Fela in '77 during FESTAC and at the Shrine with individuals such as Haki Madhubiti shot by Marilyn Nance.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Warwick Saint: The Photographer Behind 'The Shrine Girl'

You may have noticed the incredible black and white photos that hang behind the stage at the Shrine. The portraits are the work of Brooklyn based, South African born, internationally acclaimed photographer, Warwick Saint. Saint has photographed a who's who list of models, actors, musicians... Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Lady Gaga, Bjork, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Outkast & John Legend are just a few musicians he has shot. Eva Mendez, Selma Hayek, Jessica Alba and Jamie Foxx are a handful of the long list of celebrities he has photographed, not to mention countless fashion spreads for the most prestigious publications around the world. Check out his incredible body of work: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Since 1992 and continuing till today Japan's Osaka Monaurail hits hard with their James Brown inspired funk and soul. It's The JBs Monorail with tight horn arrangements and blistering dance moves!


...every Wednesday night! On the dance floor, people.


Killer funk with a definite Afro style – a wonderful big band from the KC scene, and just about the freshest thing we've heard to come out of that city in a long long time! The grooves are super-tight, but never uptight – and although things start in Fela-type territory, they quickly stretch out to embrace a range of funky modes – using some especially sharp horn charts to carve out some rich new territory, and mixing in these great funky moments at the bottom of the rhythms! Vocals are by a few different singers, which further keeps things fresh – and you can definitely rank these guys right up there with the best of the contemporary Afro Funk scene! Titles include "Terror Flu", "Distress Call", "Step First Look Last", "Space Age", "Debt On Me", and "Unplug Yourself". (LP version comes with a free digital album download coupon.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Benin-based Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou played their Chicago debut at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the Music Without Borders series on Thursday, July 15. They headlined the show with Columbia's salsa-charged La 33. Their current two releases on Analog Africa (originally on Benin's No.1 label - Albarika Store) trace the development of the band and its seamless incorporation of Vodoun Rhythms to Funk, Salsa and Afro-beat.



Lil' visual riff on the Soul Rebels album by Bob Marley + The Wailers... Every Wednesday night at The Shrine the the air is filled with revolutionary sounds, from Fela to the Funk. Afrobeat, afro funk, soul, jazz, funk, reggae, disco, house.... Music that continues to change the world and cause a RIOT on the dancefloor!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Meters Are The Funk!

New Orleans funk masters The Meters bringing the heat on a rare TV appearance from 1974.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


One of the cool benefits of digging for records is all the other stuff you find along the way. DC digger and Som Records owner, Neal Becton has unearthed some truly amazing photos (not to mention records) in his years as an urban archeologist. Snapshots of house parties, family gatherings, hi-fi set-ups and more give an intimate glimpse into the lives of everyday people. Gotta' love the photo of soul sister Betty Davis performing live in the gymnasium!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

THE WORLD ENDS: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria

The World Ends is the latest title from Soundway Records showcasing a wave of guitar driven and psychedelic groups that sprung up in Nigeria during the early 1970s. Featuring 32 electrifying and funk laden grooves, this is the sound of a generation attempting to pick up the pieces after the devastation of the Nigerian civil war.

Spread over 2 CDs and 2 triple gatefold LPs, this bumper collection is brimming with youthful exuberance, fuzzed out guitar and cosmic organ vibes and owes much to the psychedelic sounds of Jim Morrison, Santana, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and James Brown.

As the summer of love was blossoming in London and San Francisco, Nigeria was imploding into civil war. Also known as the Biafran war of 1967, it was a grisly conflict taking over three million lives yet at the same time as the country was being pulled apart there was a new world beginning. The tracks featured represent a forgotten chapter in Nigeria’s musical history when the youth threw their varied morsels into the pot from hard rock to psychedelic soul when guitars were cherished instruments, symbolic of a new movement, when highlife and Afrobeat played second fiddle to ‘the beat’. FROM SOUNDWAY RECORDS SITE: SEE MORE


Imagery from the streets of Haiti in an eye popping book by Soul Jazz – documenting the elements of revolutionary commentary literally masqueraded in the Kanaval in Jacmel, Haiti! It features the amazing photography and oral histories by Lean Gordon – plus essays by Richard Fleming, Donald Cosentino, Katherine M Smith, Myron M Beaseley, Madison Smartt Bell. It's pretty amazing stuff – plunging well below the surface of the Haitian carnival culture – with oral histories provided by participants and those documented. The visual imagery is stunning and a few words from us won't do it justice, you should really pick this up! 160 pages. LIFTEED FROM/AVAILABLE at dustygroove.com

Afrikan Boy - Lagos Town

So we got the late pass for “Lagos Town” from Afrikan Boy, but with its upbeat tempo and feel good sound, people might just be making their next destination Lagos Town!


Dig Afrobeat? Of course you do! Love the funk?! Hell yeah! Well, UPR!SE is the party for you and it goes down each and every week at The Shrine. UPR!SE: Revolutionary Sounds - Fela To The Funk is our weekly dance party dedicated to the musical cross pollination between Afrobeat, Funk and many other genres of music...

Africa is the root. Whenever one explores the numerous branches and tributaries of music, one is always brought back to the initial driving source which is Africa, the motherland of everything ranging from jazz, soul, funk, R&B, disco, house, Brazilian, Latin, rock and reggae. These musical vibrations continue to resonate, evolve and mutate; each drawing on one another to create an ongoing organic tapestry of rhythmic variation and pollination.

DJs Tone B. Nimble and Joe Bryl take you on that journey every week, digging deep into the crates to bring serious heat to the dancers! FM Supreme hosts.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Last Wednesday at RESPECT, DJ Leonard Part Sixx dropped a real nice Fela and Michael Jackson mash-up via Rich Medina. Seems Medina just dropped a whole mixtape, too. More info and the download are right here!