Album covers

fela-zombie

Record album covers comprise a genre of music iconography that shows how musicians wish to be perceived—or how their producers wish them to be perceived. This type of iconography makes no claim to objectivity; rather, it explicitly presents images meant to arouse specific associations with the recorded music inside.

For example, the cover of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s 1977 album Zombie shows him brightly dressed, singing and gesturing defiantly, facing images of Nigerian soldiers: the zombies of the scathing title song, which satirizes these enforcers of the military government. The singer appears as a vibrant, strong leader, while the soldiers are depicted in a jagged, grey collage—as dehumanized and sinister as the zombies of horror fiction.

Below, Sahr Ngaujah and the cast of Fela! perform Zombie on Broadway.

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Filed under Africa, Black studies, Iconography, Mass media, Politics, Popular music

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