Gentleman (Fela Kuti album)

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Gentleman - Fela Kuti.jpg
Studio album by
Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa 70
ProducerFela Ransome-Kuti
Fela Kuti chronology

Gentleman is a 1973 studio album by Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti. It was written and produced by Kuti and recorded with his Africa 70 band. The cover artwork's depiction of a monkey's head superimposed on a suited body is a reference to the album's title track, which Kuti composed as a commentary on the colonial mentality of Africans who adhered to European customs and clothing.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album's title track is Kuti's commentary on the colonial mentality of Africans who adhere to European customs and clothing, as referenced by the cover artwork's collage of a monkey's head on a suited body.[1] On the song, Kuti ponders why fellow Africans would wear so much clothing in the African heat: "I know what to wear but my friend don't know / I am not a gentleman like that! / I be Africa man original."[2] He solos on his tenor saxophone over most of the song's nine-minute intro and switches to his electric piano during the vocal sections.[3] Kuti had learned how to play after the departure of Igo Chico from his Afrika 70 band in 1973.[1] "Gentleman" is followed by two jazzy compositions—"Fefe Naa Efe" and "Igbe".[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Gentleman was originally released in 1973 by EMI.[4] In a retrospective review, AllMusic's Sam Samuelson gave the album five stars and called it "both an Africa 70 and Afro-beat masterpiece."[2] In 2000, MCA Records reissued and bundled Gentleman with Kuti's 1975 Confusion record.[5] It was the last installment in a 10-CD, 20-album reissue project for Kuti. Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly gave the reissue an "A",[6] while Robert Christgau from The Village Voice gave it an "A–".[7] In Christgau's opinion, while the horn work that introduces the title track "embodies the contradictions of that song's anti-European message", the album is carried "off into the bush" with "two eight-minute Africanisms".[7] He ranked the reissue number 80 on his dean's list for the Pazz & Jop critics' poll in 2000.[8]

In 2010, Gentleman was bundled again with Confusion by Knitting Factory Records as a part their extensive reissue of Kuti's 45-album discography. Paste magazine's Michaelangelo Matos gave it a score of "9.3/10" and cited it as the "essential twofer" in the reissue series.[9] All About Jazz critic Chris May said that Gentleman and Confusion were "the first major masterpieces in Kuti's canon."[10]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Fela Ransome-Kuti.

Side one
  1. "Gentleman" – 14:32
Side two
  1. "Fefe Naa Efe" – 8:06
  2. "Igbe" – 8:14


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[11]

  • Africa 70 Organisation – artwork
  • Igo Chico – tenor saxophone (tracks 2, 3)
  • Fela Ransome-Kuti – alto saxophone, arrangements, electric piano, production, tenor saxophone, vocals
  • Peter Obe – photography
  • Emmanuel A. Odenusi – engineering, mixing
  • Tunde Williams – trumpet


  1. ^ a b Gehr, Richard (1 December 2009). "Fela Kuti, Gentleman". eMusic. Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Samuelson, Sam. "Gentleman – Fela Kuti". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  3. ^ Tangari, Joe (8 February 2010). "Africa 100: The Indestructible Beat". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  4. ^ Olorunyomi, Sola (2003). Afrobeat!: Fela and the Imagined Continent. Africa World Press. p. 242. ISBN 1592210716.
  5. ^ Samuelson, Sam. "Confusion – Fela Kuti : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  6. ^ Brunner, Rob (2 June 2000). "Confusion/Gentleman and Stalemate/Fear Not for Man Review". Entertainment Weekly. New York (543). Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (20 June 2000). "Shuffering and Shmiling". The Village Voice. New York. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 2001). "Pazz & Jop 2000: Dean's List". The Village Voice. New York. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  9. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (16 February 2010). "Fela Kuti: Knitting Factory Reissues". Paste. Decatur. Archived from the original on 24 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  10. ^ May, Chris (11 March 2000). "Part 8 – Knitting Factory rolls out Fela Kuti reissue program (continued)". All About Jazz. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ Gentleman (CD liner notes). Fela Kuti. Barclay Records. 1997. 547–023–1.

External links[edit]