Afrobeat icon, Femi Kuti unleashes a song titled, “As We Struggle Everyday”, off his ‘Legacy +’ double album project with his son, Made Kuti. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports
Musician Femi Kuti, like his legendary father, Fela Kuti, is politically-conscious. His music defines his brand and art and thrusts on the people some force of social reawakening. On his new song “As We Struggle Everyday”, Femi rails against oppression and corruption. This politically charged afrobeat tune is about people having the voting power to hold their ‘leaders’ accountable, but often failing to do so.
“‘As We Struggle Everyday’ is about how hard people work every day to make ends meet and still go to vote corrupt politicians into power who are meant to be in jail,” Femi explained in a statement.
“As we struggle everyday, we try to find a better way, see these leaders wey suppose jail, Na him my people dem dey hail,” the Afrobeat idol in his skillfully rhythmic flow sings all through the three minutes 36 seconds song.
The track is the latest offering from the double album “Legacy +”, which is Femi’s joint project with his son, Made Kuti. Set for release February 5, 2021 via Partisan Records, Legacy + features Femi’s album “Stop the Hate” and his son Made’s album, “For(e)ward”. Both records were produced by Sodi Marciszewer, who worked on Fela’s last six albums. “Stop The Hate” announced last December comprises of 10 tracks, featuring Made, while ‘For(e)ward’ is slightly shorter with nine tracks all made by Made alone.
The two records are encased in printed inner sleeves, featuring custom artwork by Delphine Desane, which are both housed in a top-loading deluxe wide-spined jacket. It also contains an 8-page booklet featuring artwork, photographs and lyrics.
Femi had previously shared his album lead track, “Pa Pa Pa,” and Made has shared two tracks, ‘Free Your Mind’ and ‘Your Enemy’.
Steeped in the style that Fela Kuti has made so universally celebrated, the two albums making up Legacy + still offer each descendant’s own unique vision and flavour. While the two have adopted their own styles and grooves within their music and art, the political and social messages continue to ring loud through tracks like Made’s “Your Enemy” a modern afrobeat sound transformed into an urgent call for justice.
Femi’s “Stop the Hate” tackles political issues impacting Nigeria, with pointed song titles like “Na Bigmanism Spoil Government,” “You Can’t Fight Corruption With Corruption,” “Land Grab,” and “Privatisation.”
“I’m talking about the government in Nigeria. The president tried to win the election, and he surrounds himself with everybody who is corrupt. You can’t take money from criminals and then fight criminals. If you are a good guy, you don’t take money from bad guys to fight bad guys. You just have to find a better way to fight bad guys,” Femi said of the song, “You Can’t Fight Corruption With Corruption.”
On the project, Femi said: “I am very excited and happy because as a father I get to perform with my son on my album again, and I get to see him compose, arrange, and play all instruments on his own album. Most importantly, we get to release this project together. It is spiritually soothing and comforting to witness this chapter in my life.
“I don’t think it’s been done where a father and son have released on the same day, or have a joint album of this magnitude. It’s been more joy in my life to see my son be able to express himself in this manner. What other joy could a father want than to experience this in his lifetime?
Made Kuti remarked: “I truly believe that once in a while we are fortunate enough to write stories for ourselves that we can look back on much later in our lives.
This has been one of the greatest positive highlights of my life so far, both musically and transcendently. I’ve learnt so much from my father politically, socially, philosophically and musically that I know this lovely project is only the beginning of more beautiful things to come.”
Much like Femi, who got his start playing in Fela’s Egypt 80 band in 1979, Made cut his teeth as a child touring with his father, playing bass and saxophone in his band, the Positive Force. Now, Made plays bass, alto saxophone, and percussion on “Stop the Hate” and is responsible for all the instrumentation on “For(e)ward.” In 1979 Femi was playing saxophone in his fathers’ band, just starting out. He would develop into an ambassador of Afrobeat and humanitarianism.
Femi has earned multiple Grammy nominations, performed on some of the world’s most prestigious stages and festivals, and collaborated with iconic musicians across a wide array of genres, most recently Coldplay on their on their latest album Everyday Life. Like his father, Femi has made commitments to social and political causes throughout his career. Grandson Made on the other hand grew up in the legendary New Afrika Shrine in Lagos and spent much of his childhood touring with his father, playing bass or saxophone. Unlike his father, who didn’t formally study music, Made studied at the famed Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.