It is sacrilege to talk about Afrobeat without mentioning Fela Kuti, the Nigerian father of the genre who used the thick mix of jazz, funk and rock as a musical platform to combat the military dictatorship in his native country. Volumes could be written about Kuti’s effect on the political climate of his homeland — he formed his own political party, was banned from entering Ghana, his studio was destroyed by the Nigerian military, he was jailed, severely beaten and it’s said that his mother was killed (flung from a window) in retaliation for his scathing attacks on the Nigerian government.
Simply put, Kuti was a revolutionary who went all the way, using music as a catalyst for civil rights and justice. Fela Kuti died in 1997 from complications due to AIDS. But his legacy lives on in the music of his son, Seun Anikulapo Kuti.
Picking up where his father left off but with his own brand of distinguished, provocative flare, Seun is heading up Egypt 80 (formerly known as Africa 70, and first fronted by his father) and embarking upon a massive 30-date tour. As lead vocalist and saxophonist, Seun will be looking to make his own mark on his artistic patrimony. In a sense, he has already done this, given the wide success of From Africa with Fury: Rise, released in June of 2011 — but in sticking with the tradition of his father, a lion of the stage, Seun is in the process of cementing his prowess as a performer. The significance of this is historic in a Marley-esque way, and arguably just as outstanding.
Seun Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80 play 8 pm Sunday, March 18, at WOW Hall; $18 adv., $20 door.