Fela Kuti - No Agreement
Fela used the phrase “no agreement” in the same way that Malcolm X used “no flim flam, no compromise, no sell-out.” Fela’s lyric says that he will never make peace with Nigeria’s corrupt and brutal military regime. “I no go agree make my brother hungry make I no talk, I no go agree make my brother jobless make I no talk, I no go agree make my brother homeless make I no talk…no agreement today, no agreement tomorrow, no agreement now, later, never and ever.” Side two, the instrumental “Dog Eat Dog,” includes a post-Bitches Brew, Miles Davis-ish trumpet solo which was probably played by the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Lester Bowie. Bowie was in Lagos for a few months round about the time the album was recorded (during 1977’s Festac) and participated in Afrika 70 recording sessions.
“No Agreement” showcases some of Fela and the Africa 70’s highest caliber work within the signature Afrobeat genre. Smooth guitar parts and a pronounced brass section (which included the addition of Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie), improv solos on the sax, and backed by excellent organ and trumpet and Fela’s keen lyrical insight, “No Agreement” hits all the right parts. Lyrically the track “No Agreement” can be likened to Peter Tosh’s “Never Gonna Give Up”— Fela will never reach an agreement or compromise with the oppressive forces that fight against progressive social change and the psychological liberation of post-colonial Africans. Fela asks himself, essentially, “how can I remain silent when my brother is hungry and homeless?” His answer: I cannot. The album concludes with Dog Eat Dog, an instrumental piece whose name refers to the metaphorical rat race.
Originally released in 1979, reissued on vinyl by Knitting Factory Records.
Dog Eat Dog (Instrumental)