Afrobeat was born from oppression. Its roots are tangled with suffering, injustice and a desire to fight. From its early inception in the '70s all the way to the present day, Afrobeat’s deeply polyrhythmic sound has penetrated millions from around the world, calling them to gather and create social change. One name is synonymous with its infectious beat: Kuti.
A name with its own story of struggle. As the “creator” of the genre and political face of its message, Fela Kuti used words as his weapon and the chants of his native Nigerians mixed with English to spark movements throughout Africa during his lifetime. The music transformed the continent and influenced millions to demand justice and reformation. The fight still continues to this day but is led by another Kuti—his youngest son Seun.
After his father’s passing in 1997 and at the age of only 14, Seun Kuti diverted himself from school and chose a career in music as the leader of Fela’s backing band, Egypt 80. He immersed himself in the music and developed a style molded from his father’s very ideals while still evolving with today’s culture. His third studio album, A Long Way to the Beginning, is his hardest hitting album yet. It showcases his excellent prowess for lyrical content as he fiercely takes on political leaders, capitalism and more, calling on today’s youth to step up and take their place in line.
His ability to incorporate the aggression of hip-hop and punk give him his own set of shoes to stomp in and eagerly attack the eardrums of all those willing to listen. The horn-driven anthems and funky basslines coupled with choppy guitars and multi-layered drums pay homage to sounds of the past while still enticing the young. If ever there was a time for a call for change, now is as good as any.
Seattle band Cascadia '10 echo the sounds of Afrobeat as well. They bring their Pacific Northwest-infused blend of funk, soul and jazz to the stage to open the night. Inheriting their sound from the wells of West Africa to the inlets of the Emerald City, this eight-piece band is sure to “put da funk in ya trunk.”