“No Agreement” showcases some of Fela and the Africa 70’s highest caliber work within the signature Afrobeat genre. Smooth guitar parts and a pronounced brass section (which included the addition of Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie), improv solos on the sax, and backed by excellent organ and trumpet and Fela’s keen lyrical insight, the track hits all the right parts.
Lyrically it can be likened to Peter Tosh’s “Never Gonna Give Up”— Fela will never reach an agreement or compromise with the oppressive forces that fight against progressive social change and the psychological liberation of post-colonial Africans. Fela asks himself, essentially, “how can I remain silent when my brother is hungry and homeless?” His answer: I cannot.
Fela used the phrase “no agreement” in the same way that Malcolm X used “no flim flam, no compromise, no sell-out.” Fela’s lyric says that he will never make peace with Nigeria’s corrupt and brutal military regime. “I no go agree make my brother hungry make I no talk, I no go agree make my brother jobless make I no talk, I no go agree make my brother homeless make I no talk… no agreement today, tomorrow, now, later, never and ever.”