Tag: Seun Kuti

New Audio: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 Team Up with The Legendary Carlos Santana on a Funky and Powerful New Single

Lagos, Nigeria-born and-raised multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and singer/songwriter Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary and controversial Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. And as the story goes when Seun was nine, he expressed a desire to perform with his father — and within a short time, Seun started performing with his father’s backing band Egypt 80. Much like his older brother, Femi, Seun Kuti has followed the political and social ethos of his late father, continuing to push their father’s pro-Black, pan-African/pan-African Diaspora, anti-colonialist, sociopolitical messages to wider, international audiences. Oddly enough, during Fela’s life, he was in many ways the bane of the Nigerian political establishment, as he bravely called out the hypocrisy, inequality, inequity, corruption and brutality that they and their fellow countrymen faced on a daily basis — while pointing out that corruption and brutality is always the same.

However, with increasing international attention on both Fela and his sons over the past 20 years, the Kutis have managed to walk a careful tightrope of siding with the little guy and courageous speaking truth to power at all costs, including risk of life and limb while also becoming unofficial ambassadors to Nigeria, their proud and beautiful people and their culture. Around the time, I started this site, I caught Femi Kuti and Positive Force at Irving Plaza and there was a proud contingency of Nigerians, who spoke of Femi and his father with proud, reverential terms, at one point referring to Femi as “Professor!” “Speak Professor, Speak!” They would exclaim whenever Femi would say something that resonated with them. In some way, I was reminded of how older Jamaicans speak of Bob Marley.

Fela died in 1997 when Femi was 35 and Seun was just 14. Almost immediately upon his father’s death, Seun took over the frontperson duties of his father’s legendary backing band, a band that features members of his father’s backing bands Afrika ’70 and Egypt 80 — many of whom were with Fela, when he was speaking out about the Nigerian government at a time, when doing so could mean risking jail, brutal beatings an/or death. And interestingly enough, Seun’s 2008 debut effort Many Things was produced by Martin Meissonnier, who produced two of Fela’s albums.

Now, as you may know live, Seun Kuti has developed a reputation for sets being a fair mix of his own original material, along with covers of his father’s material, and because his father rarely (if ever) performed songs he recorded in the studio live, Seun covering his father’s material is often seen as an opportunity for fans to hear songs like “Water Get No Enemy,” “Shuffering and Shmiling,” “Colonial Mentality” and “Army Arrangement” live — and with a dynamism that rivals that of his late father.

Seun Kuti’s fourth album with Egypt 80, Black Times is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through British label Strut Records, and the new album reportedly finds Seun and company honoring the revolutionaries who have come and gone before while being a much needed rallying cry for the torchbearers to come. And to further emphasize that theme, the album finds Seun and the legendary Egypt 80 collaborating with a list of acclaimed musicians and artists, including Carlos Santana and Robert Glasper, among others. As Seun Kuti explains in press notes, “Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs. It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.”

The funky yet blistering album title track and first single “Black Times” features the imitable guitar work of Carlos Santana in a song that’s meant to shine a black light on society, exposing its rot, immorality and hypocrisy while pointing out the need for Black folk all over the world to band together and demand justice and inequality for all people. But beyond that it suggests that everyone needs to take a serious look at themselves and their world in order to truly begin to change it — and while it may be hard work, it’s necessary work to make the world better.

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New Video: The Humanist and Globalist Pop Sounds of Daby Touré

Daby Touré is a Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, who has had a lifelong love and obsession that began with listening to The Police, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson over the radio; however, he can trace the origins of his music career to when he taught himself the basics of guitar, while possessing an instinct that music was to be his life.

As a teenager, Touré relocated to Paris and his lifelong passion for music gradually drew him away from his studies in business; in fact, Touré began fully immersing himself in Paris’ jazz scene. And after several years of experimenting with his sound and songwriting, Touré met electronic music artist and producer Cyrille Dufay in 2003 — and the duo collaborated on Touré’s critically applauded breakthrough album Diam, an album that was signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. Interestingly, as a result the Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter opened for Gabriel during the renowned British artist’s 2004 Growing Up World Tour, which allowed Touré to have a growing international profile — with the album being added to playlists across France and the UK.

In 2006, the Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter was nominated for Discovery of the Year in that year’s BBC World Music Awards and he released his sophomore effort, in which he collaborated with sound engineer Ben Finlay, who has worked with Peter Gabriel, Sting, Simply Red, Jeff Beck and Robert Plant; and mixer and engineer Tom Oliver, who has worked with Sinead O’Connor, U2, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, Susheela Raman and Charlie Winston. The following year saw the release of his third full-length effort Stereo Spirit, an album praised internationally for material that possessed catchy hooks and singalong-worthy lyrics — while pushing his sound towards the genre-defying.

By 2009, Touré collaborated with bluesman Skip McDonald on the Call My Name EP, an effort that Sing Out! described as being “neither African nor blues, but instead pulls from both and also from rock, a touch of pop and even dub for a unique, appealing and — its as to be said — quite commercial sound. The two voices and styles complement each other perfectly, and the songs they’ve created – for they seem more like creations than compositions – summon up echoes of their histories, but end up in a hybrid that’s essentially completely new.” With the success of his collaboration with McDonald, Touré has collaborated with an increasing number of internationally recognized artists including French pop artists Francis Cabrel and Maxime Le Forestier on Touré’s 2012 French language effort Lang(u)age — and he’s performed alongside Bob Geldof, Rihanna and Enzo Avitabile, among others.

As Touré explains in press notes “I was born in Africa And all the traditional music I picked up when I was young is still in me and that doesn’t change. But in my music I am still searching, and mixing, and trying things and that’s what I am doing now. I have travelled far from the ‘traditional’ or ‘folkloric’ music of my country.” In fact, over the past few years, the Mauritanian-born, French-based singer/songwriter has increasingly has merged the linguistic sounds of the six languages he speaks while moving towards a more globalized and universal sound — all while maintaining the accessibility that won him international attention.

Although his most recent effort was 2015’s Amonafi, which was released through renowned indie label Cumbancha Records, the internationally renowned singer/songwriter will be in town for two sets at Subrosa on Thursday night and to celebrate the occasion, released the music video for album single “Oma.” Sonically “Oma” is a breezy pop song that owes a debt to dub and reggae as much as it does to traditional African folk music in a seamless fashion and with an infectious, crowd-pleasing hook Throughout, Touré sings in several different languages — including English for part of the song’s hook, which gives the song a jet-setting, globalist universality. And yet, the song draws from a personal experience. As Touré explains of the song “One day as I was walking down the street, I passed a woman and her children. She was alone, sitting on the ground, and asking for charity and nobody seemed to care. This woman spoke to me that day. She inspired this song. Oma is this mother’s cry.”

The recently released music video for the song is a fairly straightforward take on the song, that follows after the song’s thematic concern with the video having Touré encountering a homeless woman and her child, and Touré approaching this woman and her child for a friendly and empathetic conversation that influences his song.