Some people are defined by thier last names. There is some expectation interwoven within an pedigree when an artist bares the last name of someone who changed the face of music. So is the struggle of the Kuti family. So is the struggle of Seun (pronounced Shay-oon), the youngest.
Like any musician with famous parents, you can't talk about Seun without talking about his father, Fela. More than just a musician, Fela was a human rights activist, spending much of his life speaking out against the Nigerian government. In the late Sixties, Fela traveled to Ghana to come up with a new sound. Mixing African Yoruba music and Ghanaian highlife with the Western sounds of jazz, funk, and soul, Afrobeat was born. Kuti's political belief began to solidify shortly after when he took the band to Los Angeles (in 1969). Discovering radicalism and the Black Power movement changed him. After 10 months of living in LA, he returned to Nigeria and created a commune, Kalakuta Republic, and renamed the Nigerian '70 to The Afrika '70. After seven years of having his popularity on the rise, Kuti (with Afrika '70) released Zombie, a brutal take on the NPF (Nigeria Police Force) and national military. Enraged, they attacked the commune, burning it to the ground, killing Kuti's mother and severely beating Fela himself. The next year was marred by riots breaking out at concerts, being banned in Ghana, and finally the split of the Afrika '70 (as members deserted during a concert over rumors that Fela was using the profit to fund his Presidential campaign). After spending two years in prison (for supposed smuggling currency), The Eighties saw a resurgence. With his new band, Egypt '80, Kuti kept touring and putting out albums till he succumbed to AIDS in 1997. After Fela's death the reigns were handed over to 14 year old Seun.
It took almost 12 years to release the debut album, Many Things. In just under an hour, the youngest Kuti took up where his father's legacy had stopped. The activism, the social cometary, and most of all the passion. By the time From Africa With Fury: Rise came about, Seun had found his voice (so to speak), both as a musician and a band leader.
Kuti's new album "A Long Way To The Beginning" is released in May in the United States.