Seun Kuti Talks Brian Eno's Assist on 'Rise,' Shares New Music Video

> Jun 29 2011

Seun Kuti Talks Brian Eno's Assist on 'Rise,' Shares New Music Video
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.

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"...his father Fela's Egypt 80 band sound turbocharged compared to the patriarch's latter days."

Are you kidding!? While Seun is OK, he's not a patch on his old man. Have you listened to Fela's last album, "Underground System"? Would you describe that as "not turbocharged"?

Fela was and still is Africa's only classical composer - By that I mean his pieces are structured like symphonies with an introduction, crescendo, climax and then decrescendo... One day the critics will cotton on... Long after everyone else has.

So, smart guy, which of Fela's records are not turbocharged?
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And one more thing... I have never read a critic who has the slightest real appreciation for what Fela did... And Brian Eno should know better than to add to the hyperbole in relation to Seun Kuti... Seun is missing Tony Allen in his band, for one thing... And his tunes and basslines don't match anything that Fela brought into play... The above article is just plain silly.
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Hi, thanks for commenting.

Well you got me on Underground System/ODOO: the two most frenetic songs put to record by Fela in his latter years. But go back to Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense, Army Arrangement and the majority of his output from the 80s and Fela, too, missed not having Tony Allen in his band. He styled himself as a classical composer, true, with bigger and more complex horn arrangements and longer-formed composition but these were also more rhythmically static.

Having seen Fela live in 1992 I can tell you it was far from a turbocharged experience. It was sloppy, plodding and Fela clearly wasn't into it.

Seun's still finding his own voice; Eno has really helped him in this regard. Let's also remember when Fela was Seun's age playing with Koola Lobitos he hadn't exactly perfected his music either, and it was similarly full of youthful exuberance. To claim that Seun is far inferior to Fela is incorrect IMO.

And "introduction, crescendo, climax and then decrescendo" is a description of mid-period Godspeed, not classical music.

-David Dacks
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