Seun Kuti is one of the sons of late Afrobeat icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who everyone simply calls Fela. Seun is doing well musically. He has been with the Egypt 80 band for 28 years. It was his father that founded the band decades ago and he has sustained the tradition and heritage of the band.
As you read this, Seun has embarked on a world tour that will see him performing in many states in the US. Last week, he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, and his team made up of BIODUN ALAO, PRECIOUS POMAA and NURU about his trip.
Seun Kuti is like his father in so many ways. If you meet Seun Kuti for the very first time you will immediately notice his striking semblance with his father. He is pencil slim like him. He talks like him and has a facial resemblance that is similar. He also lives a communal life like his late dad. More often than not, he usually has his band boys around him and he runs his household like a little empire, a thumback to his fathers Kalakuta empire of those days, that includes his huge 11 month old dog, chei!.
That he resembles his father shouldn’t come as a surprise. He started playing music with his dad from age 8 and he has been playing with his dads Egypt 80 band since he was a kid. After he died he revived the band and he has sustained his dads Egypt 80 band ever since. That is why many of his band members are much older than him.
Over the years, Seun has managed his musical career so well that he has achieved global recognition. He and his elder brother, Femi Kuti have flourishing careers, playing Afrobeat music.
Last week Thursday, City People Magazine Publisher SEYE KEHINDE led a team of reporters made up of BIODUN ALAO & PRECIOUS POMAA to interview Seun Kuti who is on his way out on a global tour. It was an evening of fun and entertainment, talking to Seun and brother Femi, who is 22 years older than him. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Lets start by having you talk about your forthcoming show abroad. What is it all about?
We are on tour. We are going to have a few shows abroad. We are playing in America. We are doing a show with the Roots, at the annual roots pre-Grammy Awards party. Its like the busiest pre-Grammy Award Party. We are also playing at the Grammys on Sunday. My own shows starts on Monday in San Francisco, then Atlanta, New York, Cleveland, Colorado, so many states in the US. We are going to be away for a month before we come back.
Seun is always on tour abroad and you do get so many shows that keep you busy. How do you balance this out with your commitments?
Actually, most of the tours come from the offers we got in advance and we plan it ahead. We have a good network of professionals who are making bookings for you here and there. I have a good team of administrators running my band.
My band is quite big. That is also an issue for me as well. When I am on tour we are 15 and that is a lot of people to log around the world with. Everything has to be precise. Back home, the band is not big any more. Back home we are about 17 or 18. It is no longer as big as it used to be back in the day.
Seun Kuti has evolved over time. At what stage are you musically?
I really don’t know. Maybe I can say, I am the Grammy nomination stage (laughs). This is our first nomination. For me its not bad. Its only my 4th album. Its the band that I am laughing at.
Its their 5th album. And this is their 1st nomination. I have done 4 records – Many Things, Africa With Fury, Long Way To The Beginning, and now, Black Times. Those are my 4 studio records. In terms of the albums that I have actually released, maybe I am on No 7 or 8.
When you look back at your track record, how does it make you feel, in terms of what you have been able to achieve?
I can’t complain. I don’t really set goals for myself in terms of individual goals. I always like to set collective goals to be able to meet and match those goals. In terms of those, I think I have actually excelled in my own original plans which I had acticipated. This is my 28th year in the band.
In two years, I will be a 30 years veteran in music. So, you can see I have played music all my life. It will be 30 years that I have been on stage and I will 38.
Will you say you are where you have always wanted to be or you are still far away?
I think I am where I should be. I don’t want to be anywhere and I don’t see myself going any where. I am not driven by those kind of personal ambitious in my own life. I am able to get anything I want. That should be okay. You shouldn’t ask for more than that in life. My family is happy. At least, to my knowledge.