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Afrobeat - Released April 22, 2013 | Naive

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama
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Throughout his career, Femi Kuti, eldest son of Fela, has sought to establish his own musical identity while being the torchbearer (along with his younger brother Seun) of his late father's legacy. That truth can be easily envisaged on the cover of No Place for My Dream, where a woman is walking with a basket on her head through an enormous field of garbage. Recorded in Paris, the album sticks close to the heart of Afro-beat, but Kuti, infuses the music with Latin, African-American, and Caribbean sounds as well. The message is the message. Kuti has no choice but to deliver it song after song--"Nothing to Show for It," "No Work No Job No Money," "Politics Na Big Business," etc. all speak truth to the power of oppression The righteous indignation is everywhere, presented in beautifully written tunes orchestrated by himself and Positive Force's bandleader/guitarist Opeyemi Awomolo. But there is real vulnerability here as well. Check the slippery Caribbean Afro-funk of "The World Is Changing." In addition to the interlocking call and response of his organ and the saxophone and brass sections, Kuti offers a vocal atop his backing chorus that states his case -- referring to Somalia, the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, the poverty and suffering from Bangladesh to Rwanda. His voice almost breaks with empathic pain, even as the music charges on. Kuti's organ takes center stage and fuels a deep Afro-Cuban groove on "Carry on Pushing On," while "Na So We See Am" melds Afro-beat to salsa in furious tempo. His tenor kicks things off in the jazzy funk of "One Man Show"'s call to world revolution. Throughout, Kuti sticks close to the heart of Afro-beat's musical drive and heartbeat, yet he moves its boundary. Besides the slamming tunes, another notable thing about No Place for My Dream is the way Femi mirrors his father's musical innovation. Where the elder Kuti brought other musics into the one he was creating as a new language for liberation, Femi uses Afro-beat as the jumping-off point that explores and connects other sounds to build bridges to other cultures. He acknowledges and celebrates musical difference, allows for those tensions to reveal themselves inside his music, and creates a dialogue that uses rhythm and harmony as unifying signifiers in his political language. Brilliant. ~ Thom Jurek

Afrobeat - Released February 23, 2018 | Knitting Factory

Afrobeat - Released June 14, 2010 | Labelmaison

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Afrobeat - Released November 15, 2017 | Knitting Factory

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Afrobeat - Released February 14, 2018 | Knitting Factory


World - Released January 1, 2007 | Wrasse Records Ltd.

Femi Kuti has the unenviable position of being an excellent musician and the undisputed king of Afro-beat, while also being the son of the greatest. Of course, that has tempered his sound over the years to some degree as he distanced himself by adding newer influences such as hip-hop to the classic soul-funk-jazz sound. As time progressed, he has moved into a more "traditional" Afro-beat sound with excellent results. Here, some of the best tracks from his three albums are presented. Two tracks come from the little-known eponymous debut, and a handful from each of his following releases. This is Femi at his best, crossing the divides between classic and modern, contemplative and energetic, hypnotic and pounding. The music is top-notch and the song selection equally excellent, picking out a couple of relative rarities for good measure in "Ala Jalkoum" with Rachid Taha and a star-studded cover of Fela's "Water No Get Enemy" from the Red Hot + series. It's the sheer power of the groove that will get you every time, though -- saxes wailing, drums thumping, and call-and-response vocals forcing everyone to stay in the groove. As an added bonus, a disc of remixes is included; there are fewer vocals but the grooves are extended, if that's possible. ~ Adam Greenberg

Afrobeat - Released June 25, 2013 | Knitting Factory


Afrobeat - Released April 12, 2011 | Knitting Factory

In the three years between the release of Femi Kuti's last album, Day by Day, and Africa for Africa, the legend of his late father, the Nigerian icon Fela Kuti, grew by leaps and bounds thanks to a successful Broadway musical that told his story in song. Femi, in his two decades as a performer, has continually honored his father's legacy while moving the Kuti model of Afro-beat firmly ahead into the future. That he's managed to do so without substantially altering the blueprint drawn by Fela is somewhat remarkable: Femi's music is undeniably more modern-sounding than Fela's -- his melodic and rhythmic influences are more global, taking in Latin, Caribbean, and several African-American genres, for example -- yet at the same time has never been radically different from it. This remains true on Africa for Africa. In rhythm and in sound, and in his defiant attitude and fiery spirit, Femi Kuti, along with his band, Positive Force, unabashedly pay tribute while continuing, fearlessly, to address issues relevant to today's Africa and the world beyond. Recorded, as were his earliest works, at Afrodisia/Decca Studio in Lagos, Africa for Africa, while offering up nearly a dozen new tunes, also revisits a few songs Femi has recorded before (specifically, for 2004's Africa Shrine album). Despite the recycling, it's one of his most inventive and potent albums to date, full of aggression, euphoria, and hope -- alongside the rage, indignation and bitterness -- and powered by idealism, pride, honor, and some of his strongest jams yet. In "Make We Remember," when Femi cites a number of heroes of African-rooted people, he name-checks Fela before even getting around to Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King. Over an insistent, churning, horn-fueled beat, Femi, in rapid-fire voice, sums up in five minutes the struggles of a people: "Lumumba fight to keep our integrity, like Marcus Garvey fight for Pan-Africanism/Like Kwame Nkrumah fight, like Mandela fight against racism." Crooked politics and injustice, racism and corruption -- these are at the core of every Femi Kuti song. They have to be: his job is to tell it as he sees it, and what he sees is not always pretty. He says as much in "Now You See," a pulsating juggernaut rich with Femi's soulful organ, a solid line of horn blasts, floor-shaking bass, and a battery of percussion. Femi exhorts, "Inside this democracy, see the way dem dey steal now/Now you see the things they see," and in "Bad Government," as funky as anything ever gets, he wonders why a continent that can produce so many great athletes, as well as doctors and engineers, can't seem to produce a competent government. If that sounds familiar to those who've previously experienced the world of Fela Kuti -- and Femi's own substantial output -- Femi is cool with that. He's not trying to be who he's not, but neither is he backing down, softening, or holding back. Just carrying on while hurtling straight-ahead. ~ Jeff Tamarkin