Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s songs—one of them alone can typically go on for days, his youngest pikin Seun is similar (smile).
Afrobeat artist Seun Kuti brought his political savvy, activist philosophy, multi-instrument-playing musicianship, support of the common-man touch, and intoxicating revelry back to New York City with an East Coast stop on his global tour.
DJ Funmi Ononaiye kept beats flowing at Times Square’s Sony Hall on Thursday, Sept. 15, as an excited crowd awaited the Grammy-nominated “youngest son of legendary Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80.” While Afrobeat is suddenly the new populist phenomenon for some, Highlife, Afro Juju and indeed Afrobeat have been beloved genres for decades throughout the African Diaspora and on the Continent. In fact, a 14-year old Seun Kuti became the band leader of his father’s Egypt 80 after Fela’s death in 1997.
Along with the sound which inspired millions worldwide, Seun has continued his father’s quest to rail against social injustice, poverty, government corruption, neo-colonialism, and the out-and-out international racist infrastructure.
“The message of Afrobeat music is the counter of that narrative: the pro-Black, pro-people, pro-Motherland narrative from our own perspective,” the African Soldier previously told NPR.
In between blessing Sony Hall with his popular hits for about 90 minutes, from the stage the definitely not “Last Revolutionary” implored the audience to rediscover and cling on to its pursuit of a shared humanity, and the need for the youth of the world to find their collective voice and power to defeat all opposing forces.
His 2018 track “Black Times” might just be his personal anthem. It says it all after all. “The time they teach us about Black protection…The time they teach us about Black reflection of the Black Times.” A timeless track, and always a fan favorite.
The audience was equally excited to hear their own favorite Seun tracks with his tight band and female vocalists and dancers, as they eagerly anticipated the definitive Seun Kuti words of wisdom.
As parts of the planet were focused on the passing of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and the subsequent Commonwealth reparations demand, in one of his bountiful tangents, the always analytical “Opposite People” performer told his audience that as “the world is finding its path towards civilization….there is normal racism….the banks, the police, education, housing…And then we have royal racism.”
Since he gave “When We Move,” fellow musician Roots drummer Black Thought a shout-out from the stage, folks were kind of hoping they might be treated to a collab featuring Common. No matter, folk. A fan is a fan. The show was great still! The “Bad Man Lighter” singer delivered as always in this another high energy gig. A packed audience included award-winning Broadway “Fela” producer Stephen Hendel, and international promoter Sparkie Martin.
While he continues his world tour, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2022, sees the release of his “Kuku Kee Me” remix with Black Thought.
With multiple-albums and EPs, Seun is a global musical star in his own right, alongside his brother Femi, and nephew Made, he is keeping his father’s name still current and central in the Afrobeat movement.