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Baker's Dozen

A New Dance: Dele Sosimi's Favourite Albums
Richie Troughton , July 29th, 2015 13:19

Following the release of his new album You No Fit Touch Am earlier this year, the Fela and Femi Kuti collaborator, lecturer and exponent of all things Afrobeat gives Richie Troughton a playback of his all-time top 13 LPs

Born in Hackney, London, from the age of four Dele Sosimi grew up in Lagos, Nigeria where he was introduced to the work of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti while still at school. After being inspired to take up music so he could learn the songs, Sosimi joined Fela's youthful new group Egypt '80 as a teenager, becoming his rhythm keyboard player after Fela disbanded his Africa '70 group in 1979.

When Fela was imprisoned in 1984, his son Femi took on leadership of the band and Sosimi became musical director. Having played on a long list of tracks from that time, including 'Perambulator', 'Original Sufferhead', 'You Gimme Shit I Give You Shit', 'ITT (International Thief Thief)' and 'Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense', the pair left Egypt '80 in 1986 to form Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, in which Sosimi was musical director and bandleader.

In 1995, Sosimi returned to Hackney, where he lives today and continues to spread the message of Afrobeat and keep Fela's vision alive, through fronting his own group, hosting his regular Afrobeat Vibration nights, teaching music and lecturing on Afrobeat.

This year, Sosimi released You No Fit Touch Am, his first album in almost a decade, following previous records 2002's Turbulent Times and 2007's Identity. That the music sounds so fresh, while staying true to the template laid down all those years ago, pays testament to how ahead of its time Fela's Afrobeat sound was. The socio-political message of tracks like 'Na My Turn' ("to run for government") and the defiant 'I Don't Care' pick up topics Fela sung about and update them for today. Sosimi's 12-piece Afrobeat orchestra continue in the big band traditions of the genre, while the synth solo on the title track displays the wider influences Sosimi has picked up himself on his own musical journey.

We meet at a flat owned by a friend of Sosimi's in Stoke Newington, where a large record collection, housing many of the LPs that feature in his selection, lines the walls. Sosimi enthusing about his choices as we play through them both transports you back in time to house parties in Lagos and to the wisdom and teachings of his mentor that have clearly left a lasting impact. "This is me," he says, though a hint of indecision still lingers: "The list goes on. I missed out Hugh Masekela - Grazing In The Grass. I think I ought to replace one there, but it is too late."

You No Fit Touch Am is out now on Wah Wah 45s. Dele Sosimi plays the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London this Thursday, July 30; for full details, tickets and his upcoming shows, head to his website here. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Sosimi's choices, which run in no particular order

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