Skip to product information
1 of 1

Knitting Factory Records

Fela Kuti - Yellow Fever LP

Regular price
$45.00 AUD
Regular price
Sale price
$45.00 AUD
Tax included.

Knitting Factory Records reissue Fela Kuti’s ‘Yellow Fever’ on vinyl, previously only available as part of the Box Set series, the reissue features original album artwork designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, who created the cover art for around half of Fela’s albums.

‘Yellow Fever’ was originally released in 1976, during Fela’s extraordinarily prolific 1975-77 purple period, when he released 24 albums in Nigeria alone. The title track is one of Fela’s defining masterpieces. Sung in Broken English, the language he adopted in order to make his words understood beyond Yoruba speakers, the lyrics rail against the fashion for skin-whitening creams.

The title track, “Yellow Fever”, is a scathing criticism of post-colonial Nigerians who cannot shake their “colonial mentality.” Fela rails on women who bleach their skin as an act of beauty, contemptuously adding that, despite what they think, it only makes them less attractive. The second track of the album is the notorious “Na Poi” (loosely translating to “things collide”) which was banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Company for its explicit, socially shocking sexual references. As Fela jams out, the song becomes a veritable “how-to” guide to sex, including allusions to motion and lubrication, among other taboo details.

Fela deplores the fashion among African women for skin-whitening creams, an example of the post-colonial inferiority complex he believed was holding back the country's development. The song addresses the fashion much as 1973’s “Gentleman” berated African men for adopting European suits and ties. Fela explains that if you catch an “original” fever such as jaundice, you will suffer but, with luck, survive, and your symptoms will fade away. But if you catch an “artificial” (self-inflicted) fever, such as the craze for skin bleaching: “Artificial catch you… na your money go do am for you, you go pass yellow, you go catch moustache for face, you got get your double colour, your yansch go black like coal, you self go think say you dey fine (but) who say you dey fine?” Whitening creams make you look sick on the outside, says Fela, and are symptomatic of being sick inside, too.