Knitting Factory Records
Why Black Man Dey Suffer, recorded in 1971, was originally deemed too controversial for release by EMI, his label at the time. Having recently been schooled in the American black power movement and having taken on a new Pan-African worldview, this album served as one of Fela’s first musical soapboxes on which he challenged the colonial injustices and corruption of the ruling elites of his time. The title track “Why Black Man Dey Suffer” is a history lesson on the oppression of the African man. It details the litany of abuses the black man has suffered — from being taken as slaves, to having an alien people impose a new culture upon them, take their land, fight them, and set them against one another. The following track, “Ikoyi Mentality”, firmly expresses Fela’s identification with the downtrodden masses and his rejection of the ways of the ruling class inhabitants of the Ikoyi neighborhood in Lagos.
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