Seun Anikulapo Kuti is claimed particularly among those who never saw the King, to possess the grace, the energy and the fury of Fela. Performing with the Egypt 80, the legendary group of Fela, Seun’s showmanship has been described in the media as “relive the most original embodiment of Afro beat”. The gesture, the phrasing, Seun explodes on stage, prompting me to ask after his show:
ID: Another thing I would like to talk about is I see you trying to play like Fela on stage, when are we going to see Seun Kuti himself doing his own thing and not imitating Fela? Because I heard you doing some new things in Paris – like Afrobeat Hip Hop with Monkobe and the buzz I am hearing which is a generation thing – the young folks who listen to hip hop want to see you do more things in that direction. For me it gives a generational thing to Afrobeat.
Seun: For me afrobeat is not about generation, afrobeat is the sound and music itself. I know what I believe in, most people think when I am on stage I am being Fela. To me NO, I am performing afrobeat the way the master said it should be. The way Bach has written classical music that is how people like classical music to be played. Rock n’Role legends – that is why Rock’n’Role stars have that craziness about them on stage, because there are certain traits that goes with certain genres that you have to keep alive. Me I am not from the school of thought that says afrobeat is old music like you say generation thing. I still believe that afrobeat is well ahead of it’s time, even if it is becoming a global-phenomenon. Even I don’t know where afrobeat is going to be by the time my children are going to be playing afrobeat. For me the way I am doing my own afrobeat now is what I believe in and what I believe afrobeat should be. I don’t think afrobeat should be influenced by any Western culture, I don’t want to see Soul Afrobeat, etc…No, and this Western music should be putting afrobeat in their music, not afrobeat putting Western influence in it music. I believe afrobeat is greater than all those music.
ID: Yeah! I believe and agree with you absolutely; in fact talking the way you just did confirms something, people always said that afrobeat was influenced by James Brown, funk, but we see that “Apala Music” the original apala rhythm of our ancestors were what Fela put together in afrobeat and it is also what you guys are trying to continue in your own ways. However for me when I am talking about when will we see the real Seun Kuti, I am making reference to when are we going to see the original you? You must have been very young or not born when Bob Marley died. They were pushing after Ziggy as a kind of replacement to Bob Marley – and we know we cannot have two Bob Marley’s. You just said you are doing Seun Kuti thing and not copy Fela…
Seun: If I wanted to be like my father, I would have released my first album when I was sixteen or seventeen. People were pushing me to do an album because I am Fela’s son, but I didn’t want to do an album because I am Fela’s son I wanted to do an album when I feel I am a good musician – good enough to do an album.