Lemi and drawing Fela’s music

Fela Kuti’s music cannot be detached from the statements it makes for freedom and African tradition and culture, belonging to Pan Africanist ideology. So the socio-political implications of the songs are essential to understanding his music and the context that led to its creation. Lemi remembers: ‘ at the end of the 60’s the Black Panther movement was very prominent. That marked my generation‘. There was a struggle for human rights, ethnic equality, eradication of black people’s oppression and institutional abuse, especially directed towards the justice and police forces.


Lemi already shared the Pan Africanist thoughts of people unity through African heritage, influenced by Kwame Nkrumah, Malcom X and Marcus Gravey, so he was familiar with Fela’s ideas and found it easy to design the covers.

I always try to understand their modus operandi in order to arrive an accurate concept. For instance 99% of Fela’s covers were done by me… because I understand his thinking’ comments Lemi on his approach to illustrating an album.

He was inspired by Fela’s music, being fascinated by the chaotic, explosive and funny side of it, taking the song’s lyrics as his guide to create the sleeves. However, this does not mean that his illustrations are mere depictions of the lyrics’ narrative, rather, Lemi classfies as an interpretative artist.

Each album jacket participates in a combat, since Lemi describes the artistic goal as:

We have a lot of work to accomplish in order to re-educate Africans. Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism have so profoundly affected the intellect of the continent


Make sure you check the collection of sleeves Lemi has created for Fela’s albums here and explore Lemi’s artistic universe in the blog’s link to Art’s Own Kind Flickr sets.


Filed under Bio, Meanings

2 responses to “Lemi and drawing Fela’s music

  1. Justin Okafor

    I want to do parties in London, Your art work and Felas music being the inspiration for me to do so. Every last drip of Felas words and thoughts I understood. Music cannot be enjoyed if it is not undertood it can not merely be like a surface sensation and that is why I cry today because what I cannot imagine sudenly becomes clear.

    Lemi is it possible to still get Felas music on record -not cd throwaway shit? Please direct me so I can appreciate the nusic and art and stage this wonderful creation here in London.

    I will draw a picture like you do and I shall name it The Shrine -London.

    love Justin Okafor

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