Femi Kuti is a world-music master, a deep political thinker, and a true Nigerian patriot.
Just like his famous late father, Fela, the fearsome legend who pioneered an entirely fresh fusion of complex African rhythms and electrified Western sounds, invented the term Afrobeat, embodied Black Power, defied government oppression, and fiercely fought dictatorship in his homeland before suddenly succumbing to AIDS in 1997 at the age of 58.
As the eldest Kuti son, Femi, along with his younger brother Seun, has spent the past decade and a half honoring and extending Fela's legacy.
Together, they are keeping Afrobeat alive, as Femi fronts his own crew, the Positive Force, and Seun leads their dad's band, Egypt 80.
Yet they've also explored sonic possibilities that Fela never traversed, even collaborating with hip-hop visionaries such as Mos Def, Common, and Calle 13.
Most important, though, both brothers have remained unwaveringly committed to social and political change in their own country.
"I live this experience. I'm in Nigeria right now," Femi told Rolling Stone a few weeks ago. "We have no electricity in my house. There was a bomb blast in Kano today. So I'm experiencing it."
Of course, though, the Kuti clan wants to help the entire world, not just a single continent. "The songs are not really [only] for Nigeria or Africa anymore," Femi explains. "They are for people I love. I'm just voicing their pain with my music."
Femi Kuti & the Positive Force. Presented by the Rhythm Foundation. Sunday, January 13. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $30 plus fees via fla.vor.us. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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