Friday, April 22, 2011

Femi Kuti - Africa for Africa

Femi Kuti continues to carry the torch that his father blazed for Afrobeat music.

Femi Kuti is a Nigerian musician and the eldest son of the famous Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, the subject of the popular recent Broadway play, Fela!

Femi was born in London and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. After his parents split, Femi chose to stay with his father, and joined his band. Femi achieved his own recognition when he appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in replace of his father. Fela had failed to make it onto the plane, having been arrested at Lagos airport and jailed on a trumped-up fraud charge. Femi, already a member of his father’s band, came to the rescue that night, giving a show that brought the audience at the packed Bowl to its feet.

And so, after years of playing his father, Femi started his own band, Positive Force. From there Femi has had a successful musical career in his own right. He's played internationally around the world, received 2 Grammy nominations, and collaborated with such artists as Common, Mos Def, D'Angelo, Macy Gray and Roy Hargrove.

The family's musical tradition lives on, and Femi's son plays alto sax in his band as well. And now, Femi has returned to Lagos, to the studio where he recorded with his father, to record his new album. The project, Africa for Africa, was just released with a full US tour that kicked off earlier this week. Femi captures the raw energy of Africa - the upheaval, the madness, the aggression, and above all, the deep soulfulness that arises out of such conflict.

Here is the video for Beng Beng, the song Femi sang in Johannesburg at the opening ceremony for the World Cup.

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