Gummy Soul Explain the Origins of “Fela Soul”

Fela Kuti (left) photo: David Corio/Redferns De La Soul (right) photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Nashville, Tennessee isn’t the first place you think of when it comes to great production teams not involved in the country music machine — but the trio of Gummy Soul could possibly change that thinking with the release of Fela Soul, an eight-song album that blends Afro-Beat legend Fela Kuti with hip-hop pioneers De La Soul. The album’s been a virtual web hit since early last week, with shout-outs from Questlove, NPR and Boing Boing fueling interest. Right off the bat, we noticed that these two artists fit rather seamlessly together and we couldn’t help wondering what sparked this idea.

“We were discussing is how a lot of times people seem to mash two artists together that really don’t fit, like throwing Lil Wayne on top of Weezer, and calling it Lil Weezie,” explains Wally Clark of Gummy Soul. “A lot of times people seem to just try to come up with a clever name, rather than two artists that compliment each other sonically.” From there, the album came together, with Clark’s partner Amerigo Gazaway hunting down the songs and De La acapellas they wanted to use. They took tracks from throughout their career, including “Stakes is High,” “Ooh,” and the Gorillaz hit, “Feel Good Inc.”

“De La’s off kilter flow made it a little more difficult than a lot of other artists,” Clark says. “They rhyme off beat frequently — especially Posdanous.”

As with any mashup album these days, the dreaded cease-and-desist order is always in question — but both artists seem flattered by the album.

“Both De La and Fela’s people have complimented us on the project, which has been really great to hear,” he says. “There’s always concern when you release something like this, that the original artists will get mad and think that you are trying to capitalize on their fame. But I think that with the album and the video, it’s apparent that we are just really big fans of both Fela and De La, and we have made a fitting tribute to them.”

Stream Fela Soul here:

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