Femi Kuti

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Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti (born 16 June 1962), popularly known as Femi Kuti, is a Nigerian musician born in London and raised in Lagos. He is the eldest son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and a grandchild of political campaigner, women's rights activist and traditional aristocrat Funmilayo Ransome Kuti.

Femi's musical career started when he began playing in his father's band, Egypt 80. In 1986, Femi started his own band, Positive Force, and began establishing himself as an artist independent of his father's massive legacy.

His first record was released in 1995 by Tabu/Motown, followed four years later by Shoki Shoki (MCA), which garnered widespread critical acclaim. In 2001 he collaborated with Common, Mos Def and Jaguar Wright on Fight to Win, an effort to cross over to a mainstream audience, and started touring the United States with Jane's Addiction. In 2004 he opened The Shrine, his club, where he recorded the live album Africa Shrine. After a 4-year absence due to personal setbacks, he re-emerged in 2008 with Day by Day and Africa for Africa in 2010, for which he received two Grammy nominations. In 2012 he was both inducted into the Headies Hall of Fame (the most prestigious music awards in Nigeria), was the opening act on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ European arena tour and became an Ambassador for Amnesty International. He continues to expand the diversity of his artistry on his new album (2013) No Place for My Dream. Femi Kuti was a judge on Nigeria's huge TV show Nigerian Idol Season 3.

 

Biography

Femi was born in London to Fela and Remilekun (Remi) Ransome-Kuti (née Taylor; 1961-1985) and grew up in the former Nigerian capital, Lagos. His mother soon left his father, taking Femi to live with her. In 1977, however, Femi chose to move in with his father. Femi started playing the saxophone at age 15 and he eventually became a member of his father's band.

Like his father, Femi has shown a strong commitment to social and political causes throughout his career.

He created his own band Positive Force in the late 1980s with Dele Sosimi (Gbedu Resurrection), former keyboard player of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. His international career began in 1988 when he was invited by the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset to perform at the Festival d'Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris and the Moers Festival in Germany.

In 2001, Femi collaborated on his album Fight to Win with a number of U.S. musicians, including Common, Mos Def, and Jaguar Wright.

In 2002, Femi's mother, who had played an influential role in Femi's life, died at the age of 60. Femi's son currently appears as part of his act, playing alto saxophone.

Also in 2002, Femi contributed a remake of his father's classic song, "Water No Get Enemy", to Red Hot & Riot, a compilation CD in tribute to Fela Kuti that was released by the Red Hot Organization and MCA. His track was created in collaboration with hip hop and R&B artists, D'Angelo, Macy Gray, The Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, and Roy Hargrove, and all proceeds from the CD were donated to charities dedicated to raising AIDS awareness or fighting the disease.

Femi Kuti's voice is featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto IV, where he is the host of radio station IF 99 (International Funk 99, described as "playing a great selection of classics from West Africa, the US and elsewhere").

Activism

Femi, the son of Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, inherited his father's zeal for both music and activism. He started playing the saxophone and keyboard with his father's band when he was 16 and stepped into the spotlight, writing and singing after his father's demise. Femi remains politically inclined grooving to high energy funk, jazz and traditional African-fueled songs about political corruption, poverty and primitive living conditions suffered by most inhabitants in Nigeria's oil-rich nation.

His album, "Africa for Africa," emphasized "Bad Government" as a major problem in Africa. Before the 2011 elections in Nigeria, where former President Goodluck Jonathan prevailed over a former Military Head of State Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari , Femi reached out to the people that there was "no difference between the three candidates contesting for the presidential seat in Nigeria". He added, "we could say we're moving in the democratic process. And it's probably better than going to war, but corruption is still very rampant. The people are hungry and sick. And the government controls the media, so it can't be critical".

He also said "It's a very hypocritical situation. People settle for putting a meal on the table, but they don't know that the rest of the world doesn't suffer every day from power outages and water shortage. Nigerians don't even know about the history of African slavery, because it's not included in the text books." He echoed the same sentiments in the 2015 elections by releasing a remix to the song "Politics Na Big Business" featuring Tuface Idiibia and Sound Sultan through his management company, Chocolate City.

He is known for remembering past African leaders. His song "Make We Remember" calls on people to remember the words of his father and "great black people", who fought for the emancipation of Africa. For a very long time, Femi has been using music to inspire, change and motivate African people.

Discography

Albums

  • Femi Kuti (1995, Tabu/Motown)
  • Shoki Shoki (1998, Barclay/Polygram/Fontana MCA)
  • Fight to Win (2001, Barclay/Polygram/Fontana MCA/Wraase)
  • Day by Day (2008, Wrasse Records)
  • Africa for Africa (2010 /2011, Wrasse Records / Knitting Factory Records)
  • No Place for My Dream (2013, Knitting Factory Records)
  • One People One World (2018, Knitting Factory Records)

 

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