Fela Kuti: Shuffering & Shmiling / No Agreement

Fela Kuti
Shuffering & Shmiling / No Agreement
(Knitting Factory Records)

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“Shuffering & Smiling Pts 1-2” is one of Fela’s most recognizable songs. From the start, the interlocking guitars set the mood for the song with Fela’s improvisational keyboard lines gliding over the backdrop of guitar and percussion. The first ten minutes of the song is composed entirely of an instrumental backdrop with solos from different members of the ensemble interjecting throughout. Fela then begins the vocal section of the song with a request, “You Africans, please listen to me as Africans. You non-Africans, please listen with an open mind.” He then goes on to decry the double-standards and hypocrisies of organized religion, Islam and Christianity in particular, the two religions that have had the most widespread impact on Nigerian culture. He claims that religion causes people to suffer with a smile on their face, all the while believing they have a reward coming in their afterlife. He calls into question their beliefs by accusing them of blindly following the flock.

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