Femi Kuti and Made Kuti – Legacy+
After the past year nobody wants to hear the word “unprecedented” ever again, so this father-son joint release is better called an unusual venture – not really a double album so much as two separate records packaged together in the name of funk. The son and grandson of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, Femi and Made decided to release their new albums at the same time, in a move that wasn’t inspired by Eugene and Dan Levy.
Legacy+ comprises Femi’s eleventh record Stop the Hate and Made’s debut For(e)ward, the first a mature-sounding Afrobeat offering, the second more musically adventurous, but both sharing the DNA of Fela Kuti’s hypnotic grooves and raw social conscience.
The musical legacy runs deep in the Kuti family. Denied any traditional teaching by his father, Femi learnt music on the job, playing saxophone in Fela’s band. By contrast, Femi allowed his son Made a formal musical education in London (where Fela had also studied) and enlisted him for his band Positive Force, bringing a third generation into the musical tradition immortalised at The Shrine in Lagos (the venue created by Fela in the ‘70s and now managed by Femi).
Made plays bass, alto saxophone and percussion on Stop the Hate. The record’s uplifting, danceable rhythms ricochet between funky horns and political lyrics. On cuts titled with galvanising slogans like Stop the Hate and You Can’t Fight Corruption with Corruption, Femi simultaneously delivers universal messages and addresses specific issues in Nigeria, where he leads the call for social justice with fiery passion and vocal dexterity.
“We must now understand just how scary it is that we are facing the same problems from the ‘70s,” Made says on his track Different Streets, a tribute to his grandfather whose criticisms of the Nigerian government made him a target of state violence his whole life. Made impressively plays every instrument on For(e)ward, blending skankable brass, smooth vocals and greasy basslines, just as Fela mixed jazz, funk and highlife 50 years ago.
On the song Young Lady, Made highlights the issue of women facing harassment and abuse in the education system, inspired by a BBC documentary that uncovered widespread sexual assault at the universities of Lagos and Ghana – a feminist perspective notably missing from the politically-charged music of his grandfather, who infamously married 27 women at once.
Femi is now the age at which his father died and remains a positive force to be reckoned with; Made is a formidable 25-year-old with an eye to the horizon of Afrobeat. At once they deliver a loving tribute to Fela and a break from tradition, one foot in the Kuti past and the other stepping into the future. Legacy+ is better than unprecedented: it’s something special.
Legacy+ is released on 5th February 2021. For further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for the single here: