This record is fifty-three minutes and thirty-seven seconds of pure rebellion. And one that caused arguably more hardships for Fela and the people than the military would have caused had it not been made. At the time Fela Kuti had his Kalakuta Republic which was composed of his fellow musicians and family members housed in his recording studio. Well that would be no more after this record came out, as the Nigerian soldiers would see to that. This is how much this album infuriated the military, and how much it inspired the people of Nigeria to rebel against the forced oppression by the state. It made them walk the streets imitating the soldiers as if they were zombies every time the title track was blazed through the speakers.
The first song “Zombie” does not have an epic build-up. It simply kicks off with the backdrop for a short amount of time and Fela and his saxophone are immediately thrust into the spotlight for five minutes of spine-tingling Afrobeat. About halfway into the song Fela and his choir start going back and forth. My favorite part here is at about seven minutes where Fela shouts out generic orders like a military chief and his choir repeats as if in a trance; “Zombie!”. This might be the most significant musical and social moment on the record and the one that might have infuriated the army the most. It basically makes them out to be caricatures that are all too real.
“Mr. Follow, Follow” is more on the mellow side. It has deeper commentary and a clearer theme about conformity as it relates to the military and the state. It is all about how having power and influence is actually fragile to corruption and manipulation. *”Some follow, follow and close their eyes, some follow, follow and close their mouths, some follow, follow and close their ears”*. This part sticks out to me the most. This album has two more masterful tracks each more than ten minutes and full of funky rhythms and scathing commentary. You should hear Fela Kuti’s music at least once in your life. If not this record then any of his forty-something albums. I recommend this one because it personifies the man very well. Aggressive in harmonies and causes and is one of the best-ever Afrobeat albums of all time.