Femi Kuti Brings Positive Force To Prospect Park

Femi Kuti Brings Positive Force To Prospect Park – July 23, 2016

Swirling, intoxicating polyrhythms emanated from Prospect Park on Saturday night.   Undeterred by the wicked New York City heatwave that’s been torching the five boroughs of late, fans of Femi Kuti packed the band shell for a free show from the Nigerian bandleader and multi-instrumentalist.  (He plays keyboards and trumpet as well as the sax he is most famous for.)   Kuti made it worth every drop of sweat that it cost.  His concerts combine overtly political songs with celebratory fervor.  The message is transmitted by the words and music equally: work towards social justice and against corruption but do it with a loving heart, smiling face, and dancing feet!

I had the opportunity to speak to Femi once before, about three years ago at Webster Hall, when his album No Place For My Dream was new. In both interviews, inevitably I suppose, the subject of his father Fela Kuti came up.   The takeaway from the first conversation was that a defining difference between Femi and Fela is song length with the former favoring five minute compositions over the latter’s thirty minute ones.  What struck me this time was Femi’s willingness to break the strict rules of his father and incorporate non-traditional sounds to the Afrobeat including elements of electronics and hip hop.  Kuti’s Fight to Win in 2001 featured collaborations with artists like Mos Def and Common and he pointed to the Shoki Shoki album of 1998 as an example of bringing the form to a new place.

He introduced some new material in the set this time around and is optimistic about a new record being released next year.  Don’t miss Femi Kuti tonight (Wednesday, July 27th) at Brooklyn Bowl.

This show was part of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn concert series that includes a free show from the super fab Angelique Kidjo this Friday.

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