So it’s 1974, and Fela Kuti is about to turn 36. By this point, he’s pretty much the biggest musician on the African continent. One night, he’s sitting at home in his compound in Lagos, and he hears a knock on the door. It’s the police. They’ve been pestering him on and off for years, arresting him and conducting raids at all hours. They don’t like his music, mostly because of what it inspires. It’s gotten quite radical, and the acolytes that accompany him have taken on a similar slant. He’s making too much noise, in an asking-the-wrong-questions-about-the-wrong-people kind of way. Plus he smokes a lot of weed. So they figure they can nab him on a 10-year drug sentence.

They burst through the door. They can’t find any of his stash. (He’s flushed it.) They plant a joint on the ground in front of…



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