By David Dacks"All my songs are like my children, I love them all the same. Every track is great."
With clichés like that at the ready, Seun Kuti has proven he's been around the block with journalists, publicists and labels. Last week saw the release of his second album From Africa with Fury: Rise, and believe him, there isn't a dull moment.
You wouldn't expect that from one of the most dynamic performers working today. Under Kuti's gruff command, his father Fela's Egypt 80 band sound turbocharged compared to the patriarch's latter days. But there was room to further adjust the blazing Afrobeat of Seun's first album Many Things into something more potent.
That was producer Brian Eno's prescription when he finally convinced Seun to let him produce his work. As Seun explains, "He showed me ways to open up the music. He gave me ideas about things we could do to turn the project from live music to a great live CD."
If you're expecting something in the vein of The Unforgettable Fire or Viva La Vida, you'd be wrong. This is more like Remain In Light at 45 RPM. Kuti explains that it's not like Eno changed the songs themselves (though he did contribute keyboards and vocals), but would strengthen passages of tracks like "Mr. Big Thief' by having the melody played in unison by Kuti's sax and guest Justin Adams's guitar.
Message-wise, Kuti is still a young firebrand with concise, guttural critiques of misused power. He feels confident, and justifiably so, that he's hitting a new level in his career thanks to his new album, a new label (Knitting Factory) and the momentum created by Fela! The Musical. North American recognition is on the agenda.
To help make that happen, Kuti has lined up a North American tour, which includes one Canadian date in Guelph, ON on July 24 at this year's Hillside Festival. You can see the complete schedule here.
Also, you can download the album track "Rise" here and watch the song's new music video below.