Following Seun Kuti’s show in Houston, Texas on July 5th, he was presented with this Certificate of Congressional Recognition, honouring his Father, the Musical Legend, Fela Kuti. The certificate recognizes Fela Kuti as the “Pioneer of the Afrobeat Genre.”
Topic: Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Seun Anikulapo Kuti stopped by NPR Morning Edition to discuss his new album, “A Long Way To The Beginning,” Fela Kuti, and his vision for a better Nigeria.
“When Seun Kuti had his shirt off, dancing through the end of a sweaty, magnificently funky set at the Highline Ballroom on Tuesday night, the tattoo across his muscular shoulders was visible: “Fela Lives.”
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Seun’s father, was the creator of the hardheaded, protest-minded Nigerian funk called Afrobeat, which has now spread worldwide. When Fela died in 1997, the 14-year-old Seun took over as the singer, alto saxophonist and leader of Fela’s band, Egypt 80. Since then, Seun Kuti has emerged as far more than a caretaker for his father’s style.
Throughout the set, the music changed constantly as the propulsion surged; the power of the rhythms redoubled the urgency of the messages, while the two backup singers rarely stopped shimmying. Mr. Kuti’s Afrobeat makes its politics physical, its anger into momentum.” –Read the full review at New York Times
1, 2, 3, 4… with a clenched fist and a blast of his alto-sax, Seun Kuti launches into ‘IMF’, the opening track on A Long Way To The Beginning – his tightest, most electrifying album yet. This time around no one escapes the Afrobeat warrior’s ire: not corrupt Nigerian leaders or sly western powers. Not bankers, corporate greedheads or any lying, cheating international mother***ker anywhere.
‘My people are coming for what’s ours,’ sings Kuti, 31, in his powerful, stentorian voice. ‘Going all out ‘cause it’s now or never, ‘breakin’ the chain, we gon’ sever…’
It’s been a struggle to get to now. There were those who criticized his decision to front his father’s band; who said it was arrogant, even hubristic, to try and fill his father’s shoes. This was never Seun’s aim: “Fela will always be Number One,” says the Lagos-based scion, who inherited the extraordinary Egypt 80 orchestra in 1997 when his father died.
“What I want is for young people in Africa to believe in Africa, to come together for Africa.” A smile. “What I want is to inspire change.”
And so Fela’s youngest child has full-steamed ahead with his own inimitable brand of Afrobeat: a sound as compelling as it was when Fela Anikulapo Kuti first fused jazz, funk and soul with highlife and other African rhythms – but with topical lyrics and contemporary influences giving it a modern twist. So far there have been two critically acclaimed albums: 2008’s Many Things and 2011’s From Africa With Fury: Rise.
With A Long Way To The Beginning, we’ve arrived where the journey starts.
01 – IMF
02 – African Airways
03 – Higher Consciousness
04 – Ohun Aiye
05 – Kalakuta Boy
06 – African Smoke
07 – Black Woman
“Seun Kuti is at his strongest when he’s updating both Fela’s philosophies and the Afrobeat sound. It would be so easy for Seun — and Femi, for that matter — to do little more than tour the world as a tribute act. But instead, Seun Kuti brings in smart collaborators. Pianist and composer Robert Glasper produced A Long Way to the Beginning with him; Glasper also appears in several tracks as keyboardist. Dead Prez’s M1, who has made something of a secondary career as a guest artist on international artists’ politically charged tracks, contributes a verse to “IMF.” Ghanaian-American rapper Blitz the Ambassador opens “African Smoke,” and German-Nigerian singer Nneka brings soulful vocals to the laid-back closing track, “Black Woman.”
Just as in Fela’s music, there remains ample room for joy, humor and exuberance amid the darkness and fury; the sweat, funk and beat dictate that right from the start. These tracks are for dancing — if you’re not moving, something may well be wrong. In “African Airways,” Kuti sings, “We no know where we dey go, but they tell us make we fly.” OK, so Kuti happens to be warning against neocolonialism in Africa in this track, but it’s a good metaphor for this album. We might not realize where Seun Kuti is taking us when we get on board with A Long Way to the Beginning — but he sure knows where he’s headed, and how to get us all there.” -NPR
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80‘s third studio album A Long Way To The Way Beginning, co-produced by Robert Glasper, promises to be a politically-charged modern afrobeat affair that reshapes his father’s message for the present. “This album is a soundtrack for the mindset of most young people in Africa today,” mentions Seun, “As African youth we have to stand for what we want.”
“Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are set to release their third album, A Long Way From the Beginning on May 27th. With a guest verse from Dead Prez co-founder M1, “IMF,” the forthcoming album’s opening salvo, is a hard-charging Afrobeat track that takes direct aim at the controversial org International Monetary Fund. (Although here it’s renamed “International Mother Fucker.”)
The corresponding Jerome Bernard-directed clip casts Kuti in two roles: as an African citizen, and as a businessman offering a briefcase which surely contains cash, but which also comes with a set of handcuffs. The money comes to transform everything it touches, distorting a small army of large suit-wearers into zombified villains by the end. A Long Way From the Beginning is produced by Robert Glasper and arrives in the U.S. on May 27.” –Spin
“IMF” from Seun Kuti’s new album A Long Way To The Beginning available here : http://po.st/ALongWay
Out on May 27th in the US
Brian Eno will be working in London on Seun Kuti’s upcoming album. A music legend in his own right, Eno said “I think Seun is absolutely stunning. His father was a huge inspiration for me for many, many years.”