oluseun anikapulo kuti aka seun (kills-the-stage) kuti

we in toronto are extremely lucky to be bombarded by high quality live music all summer long-

last night Seun Kuti performed at the Harbourfront for the second time - he is sexy, black and built in rhythm - always opens with something from his papa and always ends with his shirt off.

mind you, man can dress; Seun's green & white spiral print shirt with a wide lapel and butter cup, high-waisted, tailored slacks made me think Fela's closet is in good hands or the Kuti men have an afrofunkrebel pattern in their y chromosome...

but the real quandary is why do the Egypt 80 stick with Seun, the youngest son, as opposed to travelling with the much celebrated, more established older son Femi? it could be that Seun has been performing with the veteran 18+ piece band since he was nine years old. or it could be that the Kutis are Yoruba, descendants of demi-god Oduduwa - a king left his throne to the last son, the most clever son. or it could be that Seun embodies the hardline, satirical, revolutionary lyrical style of his father. or because when Fela died in '97 and Seun was 15, it only seemed right to push him from the back-up vocals section with his mother to center stage solo. I do not know, but I feel this was the right choice. Seun is animated, funny and commanding. At 25 years old, the man is a stellar live musician who brings a touch his own personality to illuminate his father's spirit and traditions. On stage it's clear Seun strives to give as much to the band as they give him - and do they give boy, they give.

the Egypt 80 are afrobeat history - 2/3rds of the band are original members of the (Africa 70 renamed) Egypt 80 band who traveled with Fela in the seventies. when you hear big band, you may think Duke or Bassie jazz orchestra or even brazilian style samba drum groups or perhaps seventy strong steel pan sets but the original BIG BAND is the african band. and historically the biggest baddest bestest big band on the continent is the Egypt 80. they are live. Egypt 80 are afrobeat originators, innovators, instigators. these men tell its story every night. make me tell you bout endurance: one soldier member transitioned from sax to keys at the age of 70 only because the brass became to heavy for his old bones. but them old bones have been playing twelve hour sets of 45 minute songs for the past forty years - do not mess, these are musician soldiers, artist renegades; if there was an afrobeat war, these guys would never have need for a white flag - rather they would play the funkiest version of the funeral song you ever heard while their beleaguered opponents were carried off the battlefield.

a word about how real african men dance - word. (sigh.)

no, but truly, it is spectacular: the stance is wide, bampsy pushed out, chest puffed up, shoulders wide and strong, head cocked, all muscles at alert and GO!

hips switch, back snakes, shoulders shift, rise and lower while pelvis goes whinewhinewhine and thrustthrustthrust... in concert Seun turns his back to the audience often to make them see precisely how it is done and sends his shoulders flying as he wails on his sax to the band or he turns to the side and folds his torso at ninety degrees and sings down into the mic with his backside raised, gyrating with his free hand held out in front of him fingers spread wide. finally, to further demonstrate, he removes his shirt to ensure the crowd catches every last quiver and movement, his back black and bulging with musical muscles, glistening - sigh. let me stop there.

there are great bands still making new sounds in afrofunk style -

hot tip: few people caught the February 2008 release by Dj Mike Love of Nigerian Gangster - check it on his myspace - i'm not sure of the conception of this crazy mix, but Love takes Jay Z's lyrical film score and mixes Hova's ryhmes with Fela's funk; throughout there is historical reference to Fela with wicked soundbytes and because i love Jay's flow, i really enjoy this album.

thank you Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti for a brilliant concert, an amazing show. we torontonians are luckier than we know - the orchestra baobob is at the Harbourfront tonight... i'll tell you how it goes tomorrow!

1 comment:

MikeLove said...

Sean's album is bad-ass. Definitely picks up where Fela left off.

Thanks for the love on the NG project, its truly appreciated. Please feel free to all the new blog to your roll