I​.​T​.​T (International Thief Thief)

by Franck Biyong

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I.T.T (International Thief Thief)
Tribute to Fela Anikulapo Kuti
2015 Remastered Version

Following the October 2012 release of his latest outstanding "KI I YE YI" album here's yet another straight-in-your face Afrobeat recording by Cameroonian musician Franck Biyong and his Afrolectric Orkestra, a rousing cover version of Fela Kuti's timeless classic "I.T.T" (International Thief Thief) originally released in 1980.

Live recordings rarely capture a tenth of the excitement in the room, but this extra lo-fi soundboard recorded slice of Afrobeat roller coaster preserves all the guts and sheer power of a vintage night in a small but famous Paris club (La Machine du Moulin Rouge) where Biyong and his cohort of Cameroonian "Têtes Brulêes" (Burnt Heads) played an early morning dynamic set for a tribute party to the "Abami Eda" himself (the weird one in Yoruba language), the Black President Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

"I.T.T" or International Thief Thief (initials originally standing for International Telephone and Telegraph, one of the richest firms operating in Nigeria back in the day) one of Fela's lengthiest and most overtly political songs, a direct attack upon the men in power, heads of big corporations and companies exploiting the richness of the African soil, and ruling classes of most of the African contemporary political regimes. A bold and uncompromising statement that was revolutionary then and that is, unfortunately, still totally relevant today.

Biyong and his Afrolectric Orkestra's vibrant interpretation of this "anthem of the African slums" showcases a driving syncopation, furious rhythms and bellowing horns and is significant of the lasting influence that Fela had on their music, while adding an present day touch when a very inspired Biyong quotes the names of "Areva" and "Bolloré" alongside with I.T.T's (two of the largest French corporations responsible for a shadow corruption system called "La Françafrique", meaning high level African officials in collusion with top ranking foreign businesses exploiting the average African people daily), and therefore making this cover version a respectful tribute to the spirit and political message contained in the conception of Afrobeat music itself but in a contemporary setting.

© 2013 Afrolectric Music Ltd.

lyrics

I.T.T (International Thief Thief)

Well, well...
Ha!
Well, well...
Ha!

[Chorus] Well well!

Well well, na true I want talk again o
Na true I want talk again o
If I dey lie o
Make Osiris punish me
Make Ifa dey punish me o
Make Edumare punish me o
Make the land dey punish me o

I read dem for book ee-o
I see so myself ee-o
Well-ee well-ee o
Well well... well well!

[Chorus] Well well... well well!

Long time ago
Long, long time ago

[Chorus] Long time ago!

Long, long, long, long time ago
African man we no dey carry shit
We dey shit inside big big hole
For Yoruba-land na "Shalanga"
For Igbo-land na "Onunu-insi"
For Hausa-land na "Salga"
For Gaa-land na "Tiafi"
For Ashanti-land na "Yarni"
For Ethiopia-land na "Sagara-be"
For Kagyu-land na "Cho-Cho"
For Bemba-land na "Chimbuzi"
For Tunga-land na "Echibuzi"
Long, long, long, long time ago
African man we no dey carry shit
We dey shit inside big big hole

[Chorus] Long time ago!

Long, long, long, long time ago
Long, long, long, long time ago

Before them come force us away as slaves
During the time them come force us away as slaves
Na European man, na him dey carry shit
Na for them culture to carry shit
During the time them come colonize us
Them come teach us to carry shit
Long, long, long, long time ago
African man we no dey carry shit
Na European man teach us to carry shit

[Chorus] Say am, say am!

Many foreign companies dey Africa carry all our money go
Many foreign companies dey Africa carry all our money go
Them go write big English for newspaper, dabaru we Africans
Them go write big English for newspaper, dabaru we Africans

I read about one of them inside book like that
Them call him name na I.T.T.
I read about one of them inside book like that
Them call him name na I.T.T.

Them go dey cause confusion (Confusion!)
Cause corruption (Corruption!)
Cause oppression (Oppression!)
Cause inflation (Inflation!)

Oppression, oppression, inflation
Corruption, oppression, inflation

Them get one style wey them dey use
Them go pick one African man
A man with low mentality
Them go give am million naira breads
To become of high position here
Him go bribe some thousand naira bread
To become one useless chief

Like rat they do them go do from
Corner corner, pass-ee pass-ee
Under under, pass-ee pass-ee
Inside inside, pass-ee pass-ee
In in, pass-ee pass-ee
Out out, pass-ee pass-ee
Peep peep, pass-ee pass-ee
Up up, pass-ee pass-ee...

Then he gradually, gradually, gradually, gradually...
Then he gradually, gradually, gradually, gradually...

Them go be:
Friend friend to journalist
Friend friend to Commissioner
Friend friend to Permanent Secretary
Friend friend to Minister
Friend friend to Head of State

Then start start to steal money
Start start them corruption
Start start them inflation
Start start them oppression
Start start them confusion
Start start them oppression
Start start to steal money
Start start to steal money

Like Obasanjo and Abiola

[Chorus] International Thief Thief!

I.T.T.
International rogue
International thief
We go fight them, well well...

credits

released May 10, 2013
Original Kalakuta Records release in 1980

Produced and Arranged by Franck Biyong
Remastering: Benjamin Lafont

DRUMS: William Ombe
PERCUSSION: Desire Nkouandou
KEYBOARDS: Brice Essomba
BASS: Patrick Jean-Baptiste
RHYTHM GUITAR: Jules Essoua
BARITONE SAX: Severine Eouzan
TENOR SAX: Florent Dupuit
ALTO SAX: Julien Pontvianne
TRUMPET: Marc Borlet Hotte
BACKING VOCALS: Soraya Ebelle, Coralie Wembe,
Georges Olivier Mondo-Sosso, Desire Nkouandou
Lead Vocals, Conductor: FB

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Franck Biyong Yaounde, Cameroon

Franck Biyong is a Cameroonian Guitarist, composer and singer, creator of the Afrolectric sound.

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