Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 (Nigeria)
The Kuti name casts a long shadow in the music world; after all, legendary Nigerian musician and bandleader Fela Kuti invented afrobeat and started a movement.
The youngest member of the Kuti musical dynasty, Seun Kuti ably carries the afrobeat torch his father lit. Afrobeat combines traditional Yoruba music, jazz, highlife, funk and call-and-response with complex and utterly irresistible percussion. As Fela conceived it, afrobeat was a container not only for monster rhythms but furiously revolutionary political commentary that reshaped the political landscape of Nigeria and other West African nations in the ’70s and ’80s.
At age nine, Seun confessed to his father his wish to sing, and soon became kind of a mascot for Fela’s famous band Egypt 80, singing onstage with them. Fela died in 1997 when Seun was only 14; and at that gobsmackingly young age Seun became the leader of Egypt 80, sacrificing a promising soccer talent for the music that he loves so much.
In concert Egypt 80 plays a mix of originals and Fela Kuti’s recorded songs. As Fela never played his recorded music in concert, a Seun Kuti show becomes an intoxicating mix of never-before-heard live performances of classic afrobeat, and challenging original material like their recent release, From Africa with Fury: Rise.
That album was recorded in London, and produced by Brian Eno, John Reynolds and Kuti himself. Kuti has ably managed the balance of honouring the memory of his father, while inserting his own creative spin on the afrobeat evolution.
(w/ thanks to the Calgary Folk Festival / SS)