The influence of the legendary Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti is displayed gloriously with the next two Kuti generations connecting on this joint release. Legacy + is in fact two albums, with one each presented by father and son. Femi Kuti, Fela’s son and former Egypt 80 band member, has been a driving force of Afrobeat and the power of music to change the world for some years, but it’s Femi’s own son, Made Kuti, that now steps up to present his own vision.
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As Femi was preparing his album - Stop The Hate - he invited Made, who plays bass, alto-saxophone and percussion on his dad’s album, to release his own debut record ‘For(e)ward’ alongside his own in a joint package. It’s a smart yet honestly touching move on his and the label’s part: and naturally pays dividends to the listener.
Femi Kuti’s output on Stop The Hate is relentlessly fierce and funky, and for his eleventh album there’s no easing off the pedal. Kuti Senior delivers messages of freedom and positivity that are as bold and defiant as they’ve ever been: central themes of the album focus on corruption in Nigeria’s local government, equal rights and the end of police brutality for Black people. Pure and powerful and dispatched with experience and confidence, it’s Afrobeat+ direct from the source.
On Made’s ‘For(e)ward’ album, we’re presented with a wealth of influences added to the Kuti Afrobeat formula, with the talented musician also performing everything on the record. While the hypnotic basslines, rhythms and horns inherited from previous generations are vital ingredients, Made takes more than enough turns to make this record his own.
He studied at the famed Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (the same place his grandfather Fela studied, back when it was known as Trinity College), while also soaking up the riches in London’s underground scene, and the city's diverse influences of club music, dub, hip hop, punk, jazz and other improvisational disciplines are audible in his music. The song’s powerful messages come from his own perspective, with the direct effects of years of political negligence and corruption, alongside sexual harassment of and inequality for women, brought to the fore.
The (Positive) Force is strong in the Kuti family. Fela would no doubt be proud of what the next generations have delivered here - one continuing to play at the top of his game, the other emerging with promise, both still fighting for the people.
Legacy +, featuring Stop The Hate and For(e)ward arrives 5 February via Partisan Records.