Carrying the Kuti Name with Noble Integrity. An interview with Seun Kuti

Seun Kuti, Fela Kuti ‘s youngest son, will be touring North America in late June and early July with Egypt 80, his father’s band. To find out more about this rising star in African music, World Music Central interviewed him in May of 2007.

WMC – You carry the Kuti family name. Is this a big responsibility for you?

SK -The Kuti family name is natural to me because I was born with it and I don’t see is as a responsibility. I carry it with noble integrity.

Did you ever perform with your father?

Yes I did, you know, as a kid I used to open the show for him in front of thousands of people and sometimes when he was doing some tracks he’d call me on stage and we’d sing together.

You play with Fela Kuti’s musicians, Egypt 80. Is it easy to work with veteran musicians? 

Its quite easy ’cause we’re like family……. I have a lot of respect for them for their loyalty to the music and I believe their feelings towards me is mutual

Where did the name Egypt 80 come from, what does it mean?

My father came up with the name Egypt ’80 because Egypt is the cradle of world civilization and 1980 was when he became spiritually inclined.

As a young musician, you belong to a new generation. What new influences did you add to Afrobeat?

I am influenced by a lot of new music and in a track or two I might add some of these influences, mainly hip op. Afrobeat is African classical musical with my father as the matter who has set all these guide lines that keep it original from a lot of genres and I try to keep to that tradition of writing pure Afrobeat music full of that good old dance groove, I feel a lot of people find it hard to understand this so they keep trying to westernize the music, I ain’t a party, though, because I believe the music is our identity and I will not be the one to compromise it

Your father had political and social concerns about Nigeria. Do you share those concerns?

It’s only natural that if your house is dirty you, try to clean it unless you’re an animal which I believe most African leaders are, in one way or the other,…….. of course I do have concerns

What is your relationship with Femi Kuti? Do you ever perform together?

Or relationship is brotherly. I’m proud to have him at the helm, a great man indeed. We are yet to perform together on the same stage really but we’ve played at the same concerts before

There is a growing Afrobeat music scene in the United States formed by musicians from various cultures and backgrounds. For example, Antibalas. Are you in touch with any of them?

Yah, Antibalas are good friends of mine……… I think they are a great band too.

If someone traveled to Lagos seeking Nigerian music, what places would you recommend?

The African Shrine Period, ha ha ha ha ha ha.

What music have you been listening to lately?

Dirty South mixtapes (southern smoke and gangster grillz).

What projects are working on now?

Yeah, the two main projects, the tour and the album Watch out world!

Buy Seun’s new CD: