Cork Jazz Festival: Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80 ready to conquer Cork
Perhaps the most valuable thing about music is the immediacy with which it presents big ideas and creates space to discuss them, while conjuring up images of how things could be and stirring the blood to find ways to make the idea real.
Whether it’s the agency art grants to externalize perception and make sense of the world from scratch, or the courage to look at the superstructures around us and realize they are not played in our favor, music is an incredible tool for addressing the world – something that Afrobeats innovator and political icon Fela Kuti understood all too well, blending West African music with funk and jazz at the extended jam courses that targeted Nigerian military juntas, as well as other internal and external forces that plagued the continent in the 1970s and 1980s.
A big shadow for anyone to escape, but a quick look at his son Seun Kuti onstage is confirmation that he’s more than confident enough to go his own way and dismantle mistakes and missteps with similar intelligence and humility. continuous boogeymen that litter the world. Touring the world with members of his father’s band Egypt 80, he landed in Cork on Saturday night for a late-night gig at the Everyman, as part of an eventful tour for current single ‘Love and Revolution ‘, leaving Leeside audiences in a piece of the great man’s legacy.
“It’s always been the greatest honor in my life, after my father died, to carry the torch, you know, and continue this medical institution that is Egypt 80, because you’re no longer just a band, Egypt 80 is also the most recorded band in the world, I think. They made 49 albums with my dad, and we’re writing a fifth, so for me, it’s a huge privilege to have the opportunity to continue. I have always greatly appreciated this privilege.
The Egyptian 80s run with Seun Kuti as frontman continued to bear many creative fruits, with the 2019 album Black Times serving as a distillation of the essence of Afrobeat in a modern context, of the song’s heavy message. title, marked by an appearance on guitars by none other than Carlos Santana, to the playful dance of “Bad Man Lighter”.
A remix of ‘Kuku Kee Me’, with contributions from The Roots MC Black Thought, continues the idea of collaboration and distilling influences, casting air horns as the anchor for a molten boom-bap mid -rhythm – with an EP to follow next month. Kuti discusses creative commonalities.
“Let’s call it a half-EP, because it’s a really experimental project – I’ve never done anything like it. Everyone who has heard of the project so far has really encouraged us, so this is how we are testing the waters as well. The response was really good, so hopefully we’ll do it again. Black Thought has always been great…almost like a mentor to me, ever since I met him you know, and throughout the lockdown, he’s always been trying to be in touch.
“[The world slowed down during lockdown, but] the musicians just got that blast too. It was definitely bad for the economy – everyone was losing money left, right and center. But I think for real artists, for real musicians, who love art at heart, who really want the best for music and for the art world and to make the world a better place, it was also a moment for us to finally have some rest, and also become better musicians. I don’t think I had as much time to train, as I did during confinement. I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time with my family.
“It was balance for me and Black Thought was an important part of both processes, developing me as a musician and also reconnecting me with life. And in the middle of it all, our connection, this project was born because DJ Molotov, who produced this project, sent me the music – he was like, ‘listen, I made this music, remixed your album, what do you think?’, and it was like.. ‘wow’, see? I was talking to Black Thought the same day, and I sent it to him. I guess he liked music too, and that was the start of this project.
“I don’t think I can thank Black Thought enough for the effort, enthusiasm and encouragement they gave us throughout this project. Like the artists and the brothers, you know, we didn’t talk about money, we didn’t deal with the managers, it was real, brotherly and artistic. It was, for me, what was even more precious in the moment, and gave me so much respect for this project.
Foremost in Kuti’s mind right now is new single “Love and Revolution”, the digital A-side of the two-track EP “Live at Clout Studios”, capturing present-day 80s Egypt in absolutely grounded studio action that reflects on the confluence of interpersonal understanding and the desire to make the world a better place.
Circumstances, however, were a deciding factor in the song’s release – rooted in connection and a higher understanding of it.
“This project, I released it, we didn’t really do a big promotion around it. I released it because my good friend, who just died a few months ago, came to my rehearsals and asked me for a copy of the recording, because he loved it so much, and he’s a good friend of mine, so I sent him the song. I’m putting my life in danger because I love my art (laughs).
“I sent him the song, and what he does is he made this great movie, and he put it as one of the songs. We said we’d put it out for fun to release it, so I can get my release of that movie (laughs). So it was that live project, but it was also necessary. We hadn’t released new music in a while, and we’re working on this next project, so I thought ‘yes, let’s give our fans a taste of the next album’.
“I’ve always made community records, I’ve never made a record that’s about ‘I’, you know, I’ve never used ‘I’, we make records about ‘us’. Love & Revolution represents this. In this world we live in today, the elites [would have us believe] that love can only be experienced through ownership. We can only love the things we own, and that diminishes man’s true ability to experience true love, you know?
“Because in today’s world, if it’s not ‘your’ wife, ‘your’ children, ‘your your your’, ‘mine, mine, mine’, then we are not taught value it. There’s no value if it’s not yours. So with that mindset, [bad actors] can go around the world just for profit, destroying what is communally human, like our rivers, and depleting them just for profit… There is also the side of love that has to do with pain and growth, complete acceptance of someone for their faults, without the caveat of ownership.
Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80 perform at Everyman on Saturday October 29 at 10.45pm and live at St Lukes on Sunday October 30.
To see more guinnesscorkjazz.com