IN THE TRUNK: “Upside Down” by Fela Kuti (Audio)

Fela Kuti - Upside DownThis is the title track from Fela Kuti’s LP Upside Down released in 1976. The first time I heard this song was on Rich Medina’s Jump N’ Funk mix volume 1. Written by Fela and sung by vocalist Sandra Akanke Isidore, the definition of the words upside down is used to identify the late 70’s state of government, education, political, and public infrastructure in Nigeria. After Fela had studied abroad and traveled to the United States and Britain, he began reinterpreting Nigerian High Life music and at the same time proclaiming harsh criticisms of the Nigerian government. The album also contains collaborative songs with jazz musician Roy Ayers who opened up for Fela during a 1979 tour.

The first time I came into contact with Fela’s music was in my home around the late 80’s. My dad loved his music and message. I remember wearing my dad’s “Music as a Weapon” t-shirt to grade school with a big saxophone on it. “Upside Down” is a monster of movement. Just hearing the saxophone, guitar, chekere, drums, bass, and vocals I feel like dancing. And at the same time I think critically about Fela’s message and social observations in the song. In this day and age of robots, I am reminded that what you say is just as important as how you play. Sandra Akanke Isidore, Fela Kuti, and the band deliver both furiously, charged with emotion, on point, and on tempo. As one of Fela’s influences would say, “Get into it! Get involved!”

“Upside Down” – Fela feat. Sandra Akanke

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Parent, illustrator, author, owner of Come Bien Books, muralist, activist, and self-proclaimed believer in the power of music and its infinite sonic vibrations. Follow him @RobertTres


  1. woodz

    November 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Nice job. That write up is on the money! Amazing how many people are just finding Fela! Better late than never I say 🙂

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  3. Robert Trujillo

    November 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Word!! Thx "Woodz"! For me its been a process of "re-discovering" him and his musical legacy. First woth my dad, then w/ hip hop records in the mid nineties, and now again after living in NYC and seeing how much Afrobeat gets LOVE over there.