Socialist Worker

Day By Day: Femi Kuti’s Afrobeat outrage at poverty and war

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2121

Day By Day cover

Day By Day cover

The tradition of thrilling Afrobeat, developed by the late Fela Kuti, is kept alive by his son Femi. With its hypnotic pulsing rhythms punctuated by bursts of brass, Afrobeat was always influenced by US music, from jazz and soul through to funk.

Femi’s music often closely recalls his influences, here specifically jazz and soul of the committed Curtis Mayfield variety.

In “Do You Know?” he namechecks influences from Dizzie Gillespie to his father.

Like him, Femi is outraged at the treatment of Africa and his songs refer to the state of the world.

On the vocal-dominated Day By Day, he chants, “Day by day by night by night we work and pray for peace to reign. Because the suffering is too much in so many meaningless wars.”

Another song says, “You better ask yourself, how the richest continent has the poorest people.”

It’s seven years since Femi’s last studio album. He has been busy touring and running the Shrine nightclub in Lagos, where his band plays weekly when he is in town.

He has developed as an exceptional live musician, with his band Positive Force.

Femi gives this album a jazzier sound and plays trumpet rather than his usual saxophone.

Unfortunately, the production here smoothes off some of the harder edges. Songs like “Demo Crazy” are stronger for sounding as if they were recorded live.

Femi will be playing at the Festival Hall on 14 November as part of the London Jazz Festival.

Day By Day
Femi Kuti
Out 20 October
Wrasse records

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Article information

Tue 30 Sep 2008, 17:58 BST
Issue No. 2121
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