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Fela, still my best African artiste ever – American Richardine Bartee


A whole lot of musical talents and legends have come out of Africa and it is rather belabouring and almost impossible to make a pick of any one who can be considered the best ever. But when the question of who the best African artist of all time is was put to Richardine Bartee, an American music guru and a member of The Grammys Recording Academy in a recent interview she was unequivocal about it.

She said, “I like so many amazing African artists that I feel it would be a disservice to pick one, but if I had to say one, it would be Fela Kuti. I think no one would want to fight me on that. To me, his gift was celestial. He was out of this world, and his music still resonates today. It will live on forever.”

Of course, Richardine’s choice might have been influenced by her love for Afrobeats, a musical genre credited to the late icon as the founder.

“Afrobeats is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition and I’m all fired up about this, especially as I have worked with huge African artistes like Davido, Eddy Kenzo, and recently, the emerging Nigerian artist, Oxlade,” she had declared in a recent interview with

Despite the high demand for Afrobeats, and as an industry expert who has worked with lots of emerging acts, Richardine offered some sage advice about the spotlight that’s shining on Afrobeats and how artistes can maximise the incoming attention.

“I think all African artists should understand that they are in demand now, so they have leverage. It is a business, and everyone isn’t as kind as you are. Some people are looking to get ahead or misuse you if you’ll let them. Don’t take the first opportunity that comes your way but if that first opportunity is the one you’ve been dreaming of as an artist, do your best to negotiate the best deals with an attorney, a lawyer or legal aide”

“My plan is to push the culture forward. I think it is in my blood. My father was passionate about Africa, especially, Liberia. I think that the only way to help Liberia, in any way, is to help everyone,” she added.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997) was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre and human rights activist. At the height of his popularity, he was referred to as one of Africa’s most “challenging and charismatic music performers, so says Wikipedia and one can understands the Liberian-American fascination with the music legend.

For more than ten years, Richardine Bartee has been promoting music, particularly of the obscure artistes who are disadvantaged by many mitigating factors. And she explains how she has been doing this, regardless of the attendant challenges.

“I have access to music industry professionals. I get to help change music laws through my activism. I get invited to the Grammy’s. I get aid from MusiCares, enjoy discounts on music-related tools and instruments. I get access to private panels and programming. I can be a GRAMMY U mentor, go to dinners with other women in music, etc,”

Richardine Bartee is based in New York home but originally from Liberia. She was born November 15, 1985 in New York City.

She has worked with major American record labels (“The Big 3”). Some of the other labels or imprints include Roc Nation, Group, Interscope Records, Quality Control, RCA, Epic Records, etc., and some international labels to give feedback about their artists frequently.

She also used to write for MTV, where she covered international multi-language speaking artists and had a focus on Hip-Hop and EDM. She has also written feature articles for Myspace, The Source and Hot 97’s DJ Enuff, who was Biggie’s DJ.

She is a member of the Recording Academy, a GRAMMY U Mentor, part of Complex Day Ones, which is an exclusive community to help make complex experiences better. She’s also a part of the Female Founder Collective.

Her blog “Grungecake” has been recognized as the number 3 blog to find new Hip-Hop tracks on Hypebot. Before forming Grungecake ten years ago, she founded two-three other companies. One of them was a graphics design business called Booby Trap Design and another was 9267 Studios, which spells out YAMS on the dial pad.

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